How Exactly is Too Cold for Dogs?

Have you found yourself living in freezing weather lately? We mean, cold enough to cause concern and ask yourself if your pup should be left outside? If you have, then this is the right place to be! We’ll explain what you need to know about keeping your dog in a cold climate.

Remember that many things vary depending on what breed you are living with when it comes to dogs. Some breeds are more comfortable in colder weather, such as the Alaskan Malamute, the German Shepherd, Akita, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, or Siberian Husky. These are just some of the best breeds for the cold, but there are many more.

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The coldest temperature for a dog varies and can change depending on age, weight, fur color, and coat type. Every dog is different, and it is essential to note when they are experiencing discomfort. You can have the same breed as someone else, but this does not mean they will handle it the same way.

What's the Coldest Temperature a Dog Can Tolerate?

Considering the aspects mentioned above, a cold temperature for dogs is when it goes below 45ºF. The cold sensation will start to kick in, and they will begin to look for shelter and a place to huddle. Smaller dogs with thinner coats will most likely be better if they are indoors at 32ºF. After 20ºF, it might be a better idea to keep all dogs indoors, no matter what their health conditions, age, or coat. At this temperature, there is a higher risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

You must also be aware of how cloudy it is outside if the sun is out, raining, or windy. All of these things will either raise or lower the temperature and give you a better estimate to know if it is an excellent idea to let your dog outside or not. Some dogs are also accustomed to colder temperatures, thanks to living in a colder climate. However, some dogs are used to living in warmer climates and tend to have a higher probability of suffering from hypothermia when exposed to colder weather. This means that even if you have a breed that is supposed to be used to colder temperatures but has lived its entire life in a warmer climate, freezing temperatures will still affect them.

If the temperature outside is too cold, try bringing them inside and if this is not an option, try to offer some shelter. They will appreciate it so much and remember the dangers of extreme cold!

What Temperature is Unsafe for Dogs?

A temperature of under 20ºF can trigger hypothermia and cause signs that can be normal to something severe. Shivering is the first sign you might see. Weakness, disorientation, shallow breathing, an inaudible heartbeat, or frostbite on the ears are severe symptoms that must be taken care of right away! Any of these symptoms must have attention and be taken inside as soon as possible. You don’t want anything happening to your beloved pooch.

Do Dogs Get Cold at Night?

Short answer – yes! Long answer: your dog can get cold at night! Observe his behavior at night, and this will tell you.
Ensure they have a warmer place available to snuggle and get some warmth, be it indoors or outdoors. Sometimes there are unprotected parts of the body, such as the paws. These don’t have enough fur to protect them from the ground and thus can suffer frostbite. You can try using pup booties if they like it and if not, wiping them off with soap and water is also a great idea to keep them from frostbite.

Are Dogs Okay in Cold Weather?

Your dog’s body temperature should be somewhere around 102ºF, and when lower, this can be a sign of hypothermia. But, what is hypothermia? This is a condition where the body’s temperature is lower than average because they are being exposed to an extremely low climate. After an extended period, combined with other elements such as wet fur or strong winds, this can affect the body’s regulation system. Heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature will drop, and this is a very alarming sign!

If you suspect your dog is in hypothermia, don’t doubt to rush them into the doctor’s office! Acting early can help save your dog’s life, but it might be too late if you take too long!

Some things you can do to help alleviate hypothermia while you get your pup to the vet’s office are taking your puppy out of the cold conditions they are in.

  • Are they outside? Bring them inside immediately!
  • Are they near something icy? Move them somewhere else.
  • Try to dry them off using a towel or a blow dryer on low to help them regain a bit of body heat.
  • Use a completely dry blanket, and if you have some spare time, warm it up before wrapping your dog in it like a burrito.
  • Fill up a couple of plastic bottles with water and stick them in the microwave. You’ll be able to use these to put around your burrito-wrapped dog to help their body temperature rise back up.
  • Give them warm water (make sure it’s not too hot, or you might burn them!)

And finally, if you have a digital thermometer at home, try to take a rectal temperature. Insert the thermometer for about 10-15 seconds until it beeps and reads. It should be somewhere close to 102ºF. If it continues to be very low, rush to the vet even quicker!


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How Will I Know if They Are Too Cold? Signs to Look For!

Here are a couple of things to keep an eye out for to know if your dog is way too cold and needs a bit of help! If you find your dog is shivering, has its tail tucked in all the way, or you hear them whimpering or whining, this might be a sign that they are freezing. If you identify your dog’s behavior and find that it is unusual, and keeps searching for places to hide while lifting its paws off the ground, this might also be a clear sign that your dog is chilled! And not in a good way!

Does My Dog Need a Coat or Sweater to Go Outside?

If you find your dog starts to shiver and tries to hide from the cold, it is probably a bad idea to keep them outside. Usually, they don’t. Dog sweaters are an excellent idea to keep your dog a little bit warm for a short amount of time, but they will never wholly relieve the cold. You can use dog sweaters on small breeds like Chihuahuas, Yorkies, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and other small breeds. Why? Because these dogs have skinny coats of fur. Dogs with thicker coats might not need a sweater because they already have thicker skin with thicker hair that will isolate them from the cold.

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Does My Dog Need Boots to Play Outside?

Boots might be a good option depending on the breed and the activity that will be done in the snow or cold weather. If you’re only taking your puppy on a simple walk around the block, you can buy them booties at the pet shop, which they’ll probably love. They’re made out of a comfortable material for pups and adapt to the shape of their paws. Paw wax is also available in some pet shops. This is an excellent option for dogs that do not like to wear booties, as they protect the paw from coming into direct contact with icy cold water and icy spikes.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to tell when your dog is too cold to be kept outside try to help them be as comfortable as possible. If the winter season is coming or you live in a freezing state/country, always give your dog the option to feel a bit cozier! Also, try to apply your common sense. Yes, they are animals, but so are we! If we think it’s way too cold to be outside well, then it might be too hard for them as well! Sometimes they are experiencing discomfort, and we fail to notice.

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