How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Dog?

How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Dog

Happy 2021!

This winter has already been brutally cold in some parts of the US. Even states that typically enjoy moderate winters have experienced subfreezing temperatures. As a dog owner, you may wonder if it's too cold for your pup to be outside. Dogs are less sensitive to the cold than we are; however, it is vital to protect your dog in certain conditions. Like their owners, dogs can experience frostbite and hypothermia if they remain outside in freezing weather without adequate gear and protection. 

Is It Too Cold Outside for Your Dog?

Most dogs love to run and play in the cold weather. While your dog needs to experience the outdoors, there are many factors to consider when deciding if it is too cold outside for your furry friend.

Dog Breed and Size

If you live in a cold-weather climate and enjoy hiking in the snow, a dog breed that thrives in cold weather is best for you. Some breeds have a dense, insulating coat of fur that protects better than most human coats. Stout, furry paws are another indicator that your pup will do great in snowy weather. Smaller dog breeds have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature and should never be in cold weather for prolonged periods.

Here is a list of dog breeds that fare well in freezing conditions:

  • Akita
  • American Eskimo Dog
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chow Chow
  • German Shepherd
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard
  • Siberian Husky

Dog Age

Much like us, puppies and senior dogs do not regulate their body temperatures as easily. It is essential to provide appropriate protective gear for your puppy or older dog when planning a wintertime adventure. Dog sweaters and booties can be helpful and make chilly outdoor temperatures much safer and more enjoyable. 

Dog Health

If your pup has a health condition, she may be less tolerant of extreme cold. Kidney issues, diabetes, and heart disease can affect your dog's circulation and cause them to be intolerant to harsh weather conditions. 

This chart offers some general guidelines to follow if you are planning to be outside in wintery weather.

How Cold Is Too Cold For Your Dog

How to Know If Your Dog Is Too Cold

It's important to be mindful of signs that your dog is too cold. Hypothermia can set in quickly and cause serious issues for your dog. Watch for the following indicators:

  • Hunched posture
  • Shivering
  • Holding their paws up off the ground
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle stiffness

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it's time to move your dog to a warmer environment.

Steps To Take If Your Dog Gets Too Cold

When your dog is exemplifying signs of being too cold, you can take action. If you notice your dog tends to get cold quickly, practice prevention by bundling them in a doggy sweater or coat. If your pup becomes too cold, wrap them in a warm blanket and rub their legs and paws until the symptoms subside. If you notice severe signs of frostbite or hypothermia, contact your vet right away.

By preparing your dog for cold weather and following these cold-weather tips, both you and your four-legged companion can safely spend quality time outdoors and enjoy the winter months together!


Photo: "Finn" by Logan Blanton

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