Say what you like about the Shiba Inus’ tolerance for cold weather just make sure they don’t hear you say it. These are tough dogs that have been braving the harsh winters of the Japanese mountains for centuries. Your Nebraska cold or British Columbia blizzard doesn’t even begin to register on their formidable coats.
Because of their layered fur, undercoats, and hardy nature, Shiba Inus not only can handle a bit of cold, they welcome the arrival of the winter months with excitement and anticipation. This tough disposition allows the Shiba Inus to stay outside in the cold when the rest of us lesser mortals seek shelter from the chilly winds.
But just because they can handle the odd snowy night doesn’t mean that you should leave them out all night. This is not a test of fortitude and you’re not training your dog to join Captain Picard on an intergalactic perilous expedition. So how can you care for your Shiba Inu when winter comes knocking with hail and snow?
Shiba Inus and Cold Weather
When you watch your furball, AKA Shiba Inu pup, take a deep plunge in a mound of fresh powdery snow you can’t help wonder how can it tolerate this freezing cold with such a tiny body? The secret, my friend, is in the coat.
If you take a closer look at the hide of the Shiba Inu puppy, you’ll notice that it’s double-coated. The thick and dense fur has another layer that acts as a lining if you will. It’s like wearing a double jacket with a thick lining. No amount of cold howling wind can penetrate this natural protection.
Does that mean that Shiba Inus are naturally immune to the ravishes of the cold weather? Not quite. Just like every other living being with a beating heart, getting used to the cold takes time and a process called acclimatization. This implies that you need to care for your pup in the winter.
Caring for Shiba Inus in the Cold
Protect Paws Outdoors
The Shiba Inu might have a first-rate coat that acts as its first line of defense against the cold weather, but it doesn’t protect all of their body. Notably, the paws are left to fend for themselves so to speak. And boy, are those delicate paws susceptible to drastic drops in temperature.
To protect the pup’s paws you need to cover them with thick socks or even those trendy dog shoes that are all the rage these days. Letting the dog saunter off with bare paws in the fresh snow or frozen road is asking for trouble. The dog might develop a health condition or fall ill.
Washing the paws with warm water is a good way to increase blood circulation and protect the Shiba Inu against frostbites. It also removes any germs, chemicals or dirt that might cause an infection if left there for long.
The best time to rinse the Shiba Inu’s paws is after an outing where it has recently snowed. You’ll notice that the paws are very cold. Despite the paw protection, pattering on the cold ground still leaves the paws vulnerable.
It’s also a good idea to use a brush to clean the paws thoroughly and get inside the claws to remove any toxins they might have picked up from the walk outside.
Tips for Cold Weather
Negative Effects of Dressing Shiba Inu in Winter
Your Shiba Inu isn’t a doll, so don’t treat it like one. The dog doesn’t only have dignity but also enough fur to see it through many winter storms and come out unscathed. Dressing your Shiba Inu is a demeaning act that might hurt the dog’s pride and ego.
The only case that I can think of where putting clothes on the dog might be necessary is if the Shiba Inu doesn’t have its full fur. Only then extra layers of clothes might be a good idea to keep it from catching a cold. But if your dog’s fur is in full bloom, then keep away the silly clothes.
Don’t let your Dog Eat Snow
Pure as snow is an expression that was minted long before we discovered that our environment was swarming with trillions of germs. So no matter what color is the snow outside your home, don’t let the dog eat it.
Even white snow is packed with germs and pollutants that can cause the dog to get sick. Your puppy, of course, doesn’t know this and will try to chew the snow. Make it spit it out and wash its mouth. If the snow is yellow or dirty-looking, then you know what’s inside it already. Either way, eating snow is a bad idea and a health risk for your dog.
Don’t Stay in the Cold too long when you Shiba Inu is Sick
Harsh weather conditions take their toll on healthy bodies. So you can imagine what your sick puppy has to endure if you take it out for a walk in the snow. Not only will it not enjoy it, but the dog might also get even worse.
A sick Shiba Inu isn’t as hardy as a healthy one. Its body is already fighting the illness and needs rest, warmth, and comfort to get better. None of these are to be found outside your home where it’s snowing hard and the wind is howling like crazy. Maybe a short walk to refresh the dog’s spirit is good but if it runs back inside, then let it regain its health in peace.
Diet in Winter
Winter in general demands two things: lots of calories and plenty of hot food. Even if you’re sitting inside all warm and comfortable, you still need to up your intake of nutritious food to combat the increasing cold. So imagine what your Shiba Inu needs as it frolics in the snow for hours.
Make sure the dog gets more than its usual portion of protein-packed food. However, if your Shiba Inu is joining you on the couch and not feeling like playing with the snowflakes, then don’t change its diet. Less exercise means fewer calories burnt which would lead to weight gain.
Dangers from the Cold
While it’s not advisable to underestimate the protective powers of the Shiba Inu’s fur, it’s just as dangerous to overestimate it. If you think your pup is immune to the cold, think again. Frostbites and hypothermia are a thing for dogs the same way they’re the bane of our existence during the cold winter months.
Both of these occur when the dog is exposed to prolonged hours out in the cold or freezing temperature. As their body temperature drops, the puppy might go through a serious condition where their vital organs can stop functioning. If this goes on for a long time the dog might have a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
How Will I Know if They Are Too Cold?
Even if your dog can’t speak and express how cold it is feeling right now, there are signs that let you know what the Shiba Inu is going through. One of those is shivering. Your dog’s fur will shake and tremble the same way our body shivers in the cold.
Another telltale sign is the whining. Shiba Inus are not whining dogs but when they slow down and emit these pleading noises from between clenched teeth, they’re trying to tell you that it’s getting too cold for comfort and you’d better head back home.
If you ignore all these signs, the dog will slow down and find it hard to keep up with your pace or even move with the same ease and agility it’s known for.
How to Help Your Shiba Inu When it’s Cold
The first thing you need to do when you notice your dog succumbing to the brutal force of the cold outside is to bring it back inside immediately. This will help it recover and stop its core temperature from dropping down further.
Cover your Shiba Inu with a blanket and snuggle together on the couch. Your body temperature will help it get warm much quicker. You can also offer the dog nutrient food. This will make up for the lost calories and help the dog fight the cold.
How Cold is Too Cold for Your Shiba Inu?
Humans get cold a lot easier than furry animals. That’s because there’s nothing between our skin and the harsh elements except layers of clothes of dubious effectiveness. But that doesn’t mean that double-coated Shiba Inus don’t get cold. They certainly do.
Once the temperature dips below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s when it starts to get nippy for your furry puppy. For the dog, though, this is still pleasantly chilly to be outside. But at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, things become too drastic to ignore. If your dog doesn’t tell you with the signs we discussed earlier, you yourself should bring it in to keep it warm and comfortable.
Is My Shiba Inu Weatherproof?
Far from it. Your Shiba Inu is a living being with a beating heart and blood circulation. Both of these are affected by the rise and fall of temperature. When you start to feel cold, you should know that your dog is feeling it too.
Whether it’s too cold outside or too hot, you shouldn’t leave your dog to fend for itself out there. If it’s too cold, don’t let it hang out for too long where the risk of hypothermia and frostbite are only too real. And if it’s too hot, dehydration and sunstroke are a likely outcome.
Exercise During the Winter
One of the best ways to help your Shiba Inu beat the winter blues is to engage it in plenty of heart-pumping exercises and lively activities. This has the triple benefit of increasing their core body temperature, improving their mood, and keeping their weight under control.
You can play with your dog out in the snow whether it will entertain itself with the running and abrupt plunging into the snow. When the dog has had enough, you can bring it back inside and give it a treat.