While dogs are known to be very tolerant of the cold weather, there’s always a limit to things. Too much cold can make your furry friend uncomfortable and even pose serious health risks.
This article shows how much cold dogs can handle and how to keep your dog warm during colder temperatures.
How Much Cold is Too Much for Dogs?
With the Federation Cynologique International recognizing at least 360 dog breeds, we can’t really give an exact answer.
Some breeds like Siberian Huskies and Tibetan Mastiff are native to very cold places and like playing in the snow. On the other hand, dogs like the American Bulldog and Yorkshire Terrier may struggle even in slightly chilly weather.
Having said that, the cold tolerance abilities of a dog depend on various factors, including:
The Thickness of the Coat
Dogs such as huskies, Bernese mountain dogs, Newfoundland, etc. have thicker coats than other breeds, allowing them to stand higher levels of cold.
Contrarily, breeds, including Boxer, Dalmation, etc., have very thin coats, so you must take good care of them during colder weather.
Since black is a natural absorber of heat, dogs with darker fur will feel less cold than mutts with lighter coat colors.
In other words, dogs with black and brown coats will stay warmer than those with white or bright fur.
Heavier dogs have more body fat than lighter dogs. Fat is a natural insulator of heat, so dogs with more weight will be affected less by the cold weather.
Small dogs lose their body heat faster than larger mutts. Hence, especially if you have canines like Chihuahua, Pug, Cocker Spaniel, and Pomernarian, you will have to put extra effort into protecting them from cold regardless of the amount of fur in their bodies.
Dogs that are active throughout the day can produce more body heat. This also means that senior dogs and sick dogs that aren’t very energetic require more care during winter.
No matter the breed, dogs that have been raised in colder places will be able to tolerate cold better than the ones living in hotter places.
A General Guideline
As a rule of thumb, a temperature above 45 Degrees Fahrenheit is safe for every dog breed.
Small dogs and cold-averse dogs with thin coats will start getting slightly uncomfortable below 45 Degrees Fahrenheit and may start having health and physical problems in temperatures below 32 Degrees Fahrenheit.
When the temperature reaches 20 Degrees Celcius, it is better to cover your dog with blankets and avoid getting them outside, as this temperature also carries risks of Hypothermia.
Signs that Your Dog Is Too Cold
Understanding a dog’s reaction to cold temperatures is the best way to know if it’s uncomfortable. As the temperature drops, most dogs show these symptoms of feeling cold:
Trembling and Shaking
Trembling and shaking are the dog’s efforts to increase its body heat. It may also try to bring most of its body parts close to the torso and pin its ears against the head.
Moving Towards Warm Rooms
If your dog is reluctant to move from the woodfire or the room with the A/C, you need to let it be since it’s a surefire sign that it’s anxious about the cold outside. You may notice that even playful dogs dash immediately inside the home or car when they see a door open.
Some dogs may show behaviors such as excessive yawning, laying down too often, and moving very slowly. All these are efforts to preserve body heat.
Dogs like to sniff, and the receptors in their noses help to determine the temperature of the things they smell. Thus, if the nose is freezing, then it’s a telltale sign that your dog is in a frigid environment.
Sometimes, you may even notice ice crystals on the animal’s nose.
Hypothermia is when the body loses heat faster than it can produce, causing dangerously low temperatures. It is a medical emergency, and you need to act out quickly if your dog shows these signs:
- Increased heart rate, followed promptly by a slowed-down heart
- Delayed reflexes
- Paleness, especially in gums and other parts of the body
- Difficulty Walking
- Stiff Muscles
- Dilated Pupils
- Shivering stopping out of nowhere
- Loss of Consciousness
What to Do When My Dog Has Hypothermia?
First, wipe the dog’s body with a dry towel. Then, take it close to a heater or a fireplace, and wrap a blanket around its body. Make sure that the animal moves as little as possible.
You can also use hot water bottles inside the blanket. Offering the pet some warm drinks like milk, chicken broth, or soup can calm it down.
Mild to moderate cases of Hypothermia in dogs can be treated at home. For severe Hypothermia, you will need to take your dog to the vet, where it will be administered IV shots.
6 Ways To Protect Your Dog from the Cold Weather
Here are some cold weather safety guidelines for dog owners to take care of their pets:
- Keep your dog warm and inside the house during the cold weather.
- Put protective clothing around the dog’s body when taking it out for a walk on cold, windy days since the wind chill can easily pierce through the fur.
- Moisturize the dog’s skin with coconut oil to prevent cracks in cold weather. You can also buy a skin coat supplement.
- The dog’s paws can be damaged when stepping on extremely cold temperatures. Thus, it’s a good idea to buy dog booties and put them on when taking your friend for a walk.
- Remove snow from your yard, and pile it away from the fences to prevent your dog from walking over it.
- Don’t overfeed your dog, as this can make the animal lethargic. Also, ensure it’s properly hydrated.
- Don’t allow your dog to sleep on the cold floor. Buy warm bedding instead.
- In the winter months, take your dog out whenever the Sun is up. You can make use of that Vitamin D for yourself as well.
FAQs Related to How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs?
How Long Can My Dog Be Out in the Cold?
It depends on the size and the breed.
Bigger dogs (50 to 80 pounds) can stay outdoors for up to 15 minutes when the temperature drops below 40 Degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, medium-sized dogs (25-50 pounds) can stay outside for about 7 minutes at the same temperature.
Small dogs below 15 pounds should only be allowed outside for up to 2 to 3 minutes below 40 Degrees Fahrenheit.