dog feels cold

Do Dogs Get Cold?

It’s easy to look at our dogs with their thick coats and think they are immune to colder temperatures. However, if you live in a cold-weather climate, you may already know better. 

Perhaps you’ve seen your dog shivering or gravitate towards the warmth of a wood-burning stove or fireplace.  

So, can dogs get cold?  

The answer is yes, but what is too cold for dogs depends on several factors ranging from the breed to the temperature to their length of exposure. There are many ways to tell if your dog is cold and tips for how to keep dogs warm in winter.

What Temperature is Too Cold for Dogs?

dog outdoors during snow
Image by sandoclr via iStock

Temperatures are unlikely to bother dogs as long as they remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Once temperatures plunge into the forties, some dogs might experience discomfort, especially if they are not used to colder weather (i.e., sudden drop in temperature or coming from a warmer weather climate). This can give you some perspective if you’re wondering how cold is too cold for a dog to sleep outside. 

Once temperatures drop below freezing some dogs may need to be monitored a bit more closely as they are more susceptible to the elements.

That includes:

  • Small/skinny dog breeds
  • Older dogs
  • Dogs with preexisting conditions
  • Dogs with lighter/thinner coats

Another key group to consider is puppies. If you’re trying to determine how cold is too cold for puppies, given their smaller size and lack of development, they are more vulnerable to the cold and fall in with other at-risk dog groups.  

Once temperatures drop below 20 degrees, nearly every dog group should be closely monitored, and their time in the elements should be limited. It is essential to limit your dogs’ exposure to extreme cold conditions in order to prevent hypothermia or other serious complications. 

So if you’re wondering, do dogs feel the cold? The answer is a resounding yes. 

Do puppies get cold? Yes, even more so. 

At what temperatures can a dog stay outside? Consider all the factors listed above and limit your dog’s outdoor time during the winter for their health and safety. 

Do Dogs Get Cold in the Snow?

In addition to colder temperatures, remember that other external factors can make your dog feel even colder such as wind chill, rain/dampness, and a lack of sunlight. Also, with freezing temperatures comes the inevitability of snow. 

While some dogs will love to trek through and roll around in the snow, others may have an aversion or even actively avoid snow. Regardless of your dog’s reaction, limiting their time and exposure to snow is important.

One key concern is understanding the question, how do dogs get cold in the winter in snow? 

Usually, the cause is their unprotected paws. Unlike humans, dogs don’t have extra layers of clothing protecting their paws. While their paws offer more protection than human skin, that doesn’t mean they are immune from the effects of snow and ice. 

Prolonged exposure to snow can dry out dog paws, causing them to crack and become sore. Due to severe cold conditions or extended time outdoors, dogs can develop frostbite in more extreme cases. 

Remember, dogs do get cold in the winter. Even if your dog loves the snow, their winter wonderland frolics should be kept in moderation to prevent prolonged exposure to freezing conditions. 

If your dog sleeps outdoors in the winter, make sure the dog house is heated or insulated appropriately.

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Cold

cold dog out in the snow
Image from Pexels

There are several key indicators to watch for when trying how to tell if your dog is cold. One of the more apparent signs is shaking or shivering. Like humans, this is their body’s natural response to generating heat when exposed to cold conditions. 

Some other less obvious signs might include:

  • Whimpering or barking
  • Acting nervous or anxious
  • A hunched or curled posture
  • Hesitation to go outside

Like humans, dogs get colds, resulting in sneezing or sniveling, and might cause them to act tired and lethargic. 

It is essential to look for some of these symptoms when the weather drops as they are subtle ways your dog is letting you know it’s too cold. 

Other more extreme signs to watch for include indicators of frostbite such as cold skin that is painful for dogs when touched, the formation of swelling and blisters, and black skin. 

Signs of hypothermia include:

  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

If you spot any of these symptoms, consult with a veterinarian immediately. 

Monitoring your dog for any of these symptoms after lengthy exposure to cold conditions is crucial to ensure they avoid any severe complications.

Do Dogs Get Cold Easily?

This again depends on the dog and a number of external factors. Do dogs get cold outside? Yes, but for the most part, a healthy adult dog will not be seriously bothered by temperatures during the day unless they drop into the forties or below.  

However, dogs that are not used to cold conditions may start shivering at warmer temperatures than those who live in cold climates. Similar to humans, reaction to more frigid temperatures is relative and sometimes comes down to their past exposure.

Even indoors, if your wood stove isn’t working, or you forget to leave the heat on when you go out, your dog can still feel the cold and may experience discomfort. 

This can also help answer the question, do dogs get cold inside? They are still likely to feel cold if they aren’t used to it, even if left indoors.

Dogs and the Cold

While the answer to “do dogs get cold” is apparent, it’s important to remember that proper precautions and a little bit of monitoring are still needed. Most dogs will be just fine as the temperature drops but don’t forget to keep an eye on them.

You can still take your dog for hikes in the winter or let them out to play in the snow, and some breeds can even be used for dog sledding, but those with dogs that fall in the more at-risk groups should be more aware of some of the signs and symptoms of a cold dog and take measures to avoid exposing them to adverse conditions for too long. 

With the right combination of awareness and consideration, your dog should be just fine dealing with the cold.    

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