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  • Writer's pictureScarlett Bowman

Dog Tip: What to Know About Your Dog and the Cold

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

A dog bundled up in a scarf and hat.

Just like their owners, dogs can get cold. During the winter months, it's important to be considerate of your dog's safety by making sure that they stay warm. Some dog breeds are more tolerant of the cold than others, but none of them are immune to it. Smaller dogs and dogs with short coats will feel the cold more than larger dogs or those with heavy coats. Even those with a thick coat still have exposed parts, however, including their ears, nose, paws and tail.

For most dogs 32°F will be too cold, especially if they are exposed to it for long periods of time. For more cold-averse dogs, even 45°F is too cold. When the temperature reaches this point, don’t allow your dog outside for long periods.

Signs That Your Dog Is Too Cold

Here are some signs that your dog is too cold:

  • Shaking or shivering

  • Hunched posture with a tucked tail

  • Whining or barking

  • Change in behavior, seeming anxious or uncomfortable

  • Reluctance to keep walking or tries to turn around

  • Seeks places for shelter

  • Lifts paw off the ground

Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm

  • Give them a warm, cozy place to sleep. Just like people, dogs need to be warm and safe when they rest. If they are sheltered in your yard, make sure that their space is dry and draft-free, with plenty of insulation.

  • Get them a sweater or jacket. If your dog is vulnerable to cold and willing to wear one, a sweater or jacket will help to keep them warm.

  • Pay attention to their paws and other extremities. In cold weather, dogs may be at risk for frostbite, especially on their paws. Their ears, noses, and other extremities can also be vulnerable. Monitor them during and after their time outside to make sure they are not frostbitten, and be sure to give them a place to completely warm up afterwards.

Your Dog and Hypothermia

If you suspect your dog is displaying signs of hypothermia, wrap them in a blanket or coat, seek a warm shelter, and contact your vet immediately. Signs to watch for include the following:

  • Weakness

  • Lethargy

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Slow, shallow breathing

  • Lack of mental alertness

  • Fixed and dilated pupils

  • Stupor-like state

  • Loss of consciousness

A good rule of thumb is that if it's too cold for you, it's too cold for your dog.


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