Please do not leave your pets outside when cold weather approaches. Dogs (and cats) can get frostbite and hypothermia when it is extremely cold out. Of course, exercise and the mental stimulation of being outdoors can play a key role to help your dog in cold weather. Here are some things to remember when it turns cold outside.
Hypothermia in Dogs
Winter is generally when most cases of dog hypothermia occur. Low body temperatures, frostbites, and other hypothermia symptoms mainly target puppies, outdoor dogs, and outdoor living dogs. Toy breeds are way more at risk than any other type of dogs.
No two dogs are the same (unless they are cloned but that’s another story). Remember an outdoor temperature that feels warm and balmy to one dog might send another in search of shelter.
What Affects A Dog’s Temperature?
What are some differences between dogs (or any animal) that affect how they respond to the cold?
Dogs with thick, double-layered coats such as Huskies or Samoyeds, tend to be the most cold-tolerant while dogs with thin coats such as Greyhounds or Boxers, can suffer from the cold weather.
On a clear day, black, brown, or other dark-coated dogs can absorb significant amounts of heat from the sun, adding to their warmth, which can help keep them warmer in comparison to the light-colored dogs.
Body fat is a good insulator. Thinner dogs tend to get colder quicker than do their heftier counterparts. That said, the health risks of being overweight far outweigh any benefits, so don’t fatten up your dogs during the winter months in a misguided attempt to protect them from the cold.
Age and Health
Young pups, old dogs and the sick are not as able to regulate their body temperatures in comparison to healthy dogs and they need greater protection from the cold.
Cold Weather Factors
The temperature isn’t the only factor that affects how we and our pets feel when outside in the coldweather.
A brisk breeze can quickly cut through a dog’s coat and greatly decreases its ability to insulate and protect against cold temperatures.
Rain, wet snow, heavy fog, going for a swim … any form of dampness that soaks through the fur can quickly chill a dog even if the air temperature is not all that cold.
Cloudy days can feel colder than sunny days. When the sun is “out” dongs can soak up the sun and warm themselves.
If dogs are active while outside, they may generate enough extra body heat to keep them comfortable for a while even in low temperatures.
Keep Fido warm with a Harry Potter Scarf for dogs!
Monitor Outdoor Temperatures
- Below 45° F: In general, cold temperatures should not become a problem for most dogs until they fall below 45° F, at which point some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable.
- Below 32° F: When temperatures fall below 32° F, owners of small breed dogs, dogs with thin coats, and/or very young, old or sick dogs should pay close attention to their pet’s well-being.
- Below 20° F: Once temperatures drop under 20° F, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia and frostbite.
Monitor Your Dog
The best way to monitor dogs when it’s cold is to keep a close eye on their behavior. If you notice your dog shivering, acting anxious, whining, slowing down, searching out warm locations or holding up one or more paws, it’s time to head inside.
Dog Scarfs & Winter Coats
You can also explore getting your dog a coat and boots at Chewy!
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