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How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs and How to Keep Them Warm?


How cold is too cold for dogs is a frequently asked question, especially for those who don’t live in very cold countries, so when it becomes too cold they start worrying about their dogs and asking how to keep them warm. In fact, it is a very important question, and that is why we are going to talk about every single detail in it today.

How cold is too cold for dogs? Well, to be honest dogs have this magnificent internal power that helps them keep their body at the needed temperature at all times. But, there is a solid rule that says if it is too cold for you, it is too cold for your dog, and that we need to put into consideration before you decide how cold is too cold for dogs, that besides the other elements we are going to dive into it in this article.

However, it is known that two of the most dangerous cold-associated health problems, the hypothermia, and the frostbite, can result from exposing your dog to an environmental temperature that is below 32°F (0°C), which is not right and not, in any way, healthy or comfortable for your dog and things can get worse really fast. So, pay attention!

how cold is too cold for dogs

Now, let’s try to clarify things more, and get some clear answers about how cold is too cold for dogs, and some helpful tips to help us keep our dogs comfortable and healthy.

How cold is too cold for dogs?

Each dog has his/her own sense of cold; so, a temperature that feels perfect for a dog and gives him/her that refreshing feeling, and the passion to go out and play or go for a walk can make another dog so uncomfortable that he/she searches for a place to hide in till that cold ends.

So, what makes that difference, what makes a dog feels colder or warmer than another dog? Well, there are some variables that, uncontrollably, affect how dogs respond to the cold, such as the dog’s coat type, the dog’s size, the dog’s age, the dog’s breed, and, of course, the dog’s health.

Accordingly, we cannot treat all dogs the same, because they are not, and we cannot assume that all dogs feel the same or are having the same issues because they are definitely not the same. Therefore, let’s see how these variables control what your dog feels in winter, and gives you abetter indicates for how cold is too cold for dogs, or in that case, your dog.

how cold is too cold for dogs

Variables that control how cold is too cold for dogs:

Dog’s coat type

Long, medium, and short coat.

There are 3 main different dog coats: short, medium, and long coats. Long coated dogs require a different type of grooming and bring a different kind of challenges to their dog’s owner, you can find a lot about grooming in our previous article, but it is not our main point here. So, yes, long-coated dogs have their own challenges, but their long coat can save them from feeling cold fast.

And that we can also say about the medium-coated dogs because they too can use their medium coats to feel a little bit warmer on cold days because they are somewhere between the Long-coated dogs, and the short-coated dogs, which we will talk about in the next paragraph. But, before that, let me give you some examples from the medium-coated and long-coated dogs, so you can have a better image of what we are talking about.

how cold is too cold for dogs

So, when we talk about long-coated dogs, we mean dogs like Old English Sheepdogs, Standard Poodle, Collie, and Bichon Frise. These are some of the long-coated dog breeds. And by mentioning the medium-coated dogs, we mean German Shepherds (read more about the 3 different types of them from here), Golden Retrievers, and Akita dogs.

But, when it comes to short-coated dogs, we are so talking about a totally different thing; we are talking about the Boxers, Doberman, and the American Staffordshire Terrier lab mix dogs. Dogs that their coat is naturally short and really close to their body.

In fact, you can read more about the American Staffordshire terrier lab mix from here, you will find a lot of amazing facts about this breed.

Double and single coat.

Moving forward to the other types of coats that, also, affect how old is too cold for dogs, we need to mention that some dogs have a single coat, which means that they only have one layer of coats on their body. And that means they can feel cold faster than other dogs that have a double coat.

how cold is too cold for dogs

Because, when a dog has a double coat, it means that there is another, shorter coat than the coat you actually see and deal with all the time. This shorter under-coat has a different texture and a different length, and of course, helps your dog feel much warmer in winter than other dogs with single coats.

Now you know how coats types affect how cold is too cold for your dog because, of course, long and double-coated dogs will never feel cold as fast as short and single-coated dogs.

Dog’s size

Moving to our next point, the dog’s size, we need to make sure you know that the smaller your dog is the faster he/she is getting cold. And that not because smaller dogs are weaker, but because larger dogs have more skin and are capable more of fighting the cold and protecting themselves from the cold.

In fact, you can think of it like we have as humans, people who are small and weak can feel cold faster than those who are bigger and stronger. Yes, it is more complicated than that, but we can’t deny that it is a factor.

Dog’s age

Dog’s age is another important factor that really affects and help you know how cold is too cold for dogs. Let me help you understand why the dog’s age is that important.

In our previous article How cold is too cold for puppies? we mentioned that puppies should be treated differently when it comes to cold weather, because they can get sick easily, and things can get complicated too fast. So, to avoid that, you need to take extra care of your puppy in winter and do regular checkups for him by his/her veterinarian.

how cold is too cold for dogs

What we need to add here, is that the same requirements apply to senior dogs too, when it comes to cold weather, because senior dogs can, also, get sick so easily, and things can get so complicated and out of control so fast.

And that is why we mentioned in a previous article, tips to help your dog senior dog navigate aging, that you need to not ignore any signs that make you doubt that there is something wrong with your dear furry four-legged friend. Because, in that age, you never know what leads to what, and how or when things will get out of control.

Dog’s breed

Dog’s breed is another important factor you need to pay attention to before you ask yourself the how cold is too cold for dogs question, because some breeds have better tolerance to winter weather, unlike other dogs that cannot survive in the cold weather and should not be left alone outside when it gets cold.

To cut a long story short, and answer your unasked questions about whether your dog can stay outside in the cold or not; if your dog is not a puppy or a senior dog and he/she is from the long or medium, and double-coated breed, you can let him/her stay outside, as long as you checked and found that he/she is comfortable.

how cold is too cold for dogs

But, if you have a little puppy, senior dog, or a short/single-coated dog. You need to get him/her inside when it gets too cold outside, because he/she can get sick, and that is never good.

Also, I need to add that if your dog is already sick, or recovering from something, you need to get him/her inside even if he/she is not a puppy or a senior dog. But, in that case, you need to put into consideration your dog’s health and keep him/her in a warm and comfortable place.

Signals that your dog is too cold at night?

Well, you are probably familiar with the regular physical signs that can help you know if your dog has a fever or no, which is checking your dog’s nose if you found it wet and cold, your dog is doing fine, but if you found it hot and dry, most probably, your dog has a fever. Easy and simple, right?

However, you need to understand that these symptoms tell you that your dog already has a fever, your dog is now already sick. If you don’t know how to help a dog who has a fever, check this article.

how cold is too cold for dogs

But, how to know that your dog is about to get sick, how to know that this cold is too cold for your dog?

First off, check if your dog is set in his/her place shivering. This is the first and the clearest sign that tells you there is something wrong with your dog, he/she can’t take this weather anymore and you should bring him/her inside.

Also, another important sign to look for is how your dog stands. So, if you found that your dog is standing in a hunched position, or in other words, trying to lift their paws off the ground; this is a clear sign that he/she can’t stand the cold.

In that case, you might also want to check your dog’s paws. Look for cracked paw pads or bleeding signs. This might happen when it gets too cold.

Moreover, there are some verbal signs you really need to know how to listen to your dog in those cases. So, if your dog started barking hard, or whining; that means he/she is crying for help. It means that you dear furry four-legged friend cannot stand that weather anymore, and you should bring him/her inside right know to avoid the more serious signs, that you will, most probably, start noticing it right after you ignore those signs.

More serious signs:

  •  Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Slowed breathing 
  • The tail, paws, or ear tips are turning pale, grey or blue.
  • Pain when touching the affected areas
  • Blisters and skin ulcers.
  • Some areas is turning to black

All of these signs are a very bad indicator that your dog is getting hypothermia or frostbite according to the VCA, and you don’t want this to happen. If you saw ANY of these symptoms call your dog’s veterinarian right away and here is a list of what you SHOULD NOT DO if you found any of these signs:

  • Don’t leave your dog outside.
  • Don’t touch, rub, or massage the affected area.
  • Don’t warm the affected area and leave it in a cold place again, you need to keep it warm all the time.
  • Don’t give your dog any medicine unless the veterinarian tells you to do so.
  • Don’t ignore your dog, these signs mean that your dog is in danger.

Now, moving to the next tip, we need to know how to help your dog feel better in winter, without getting sick.

how cold is too cold for dogs

How to help your dog feel better in winter?

Well, this a very important question, because even in winter, your dog needs to make his/her regular activities whether it is training, playing or walking times.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you are choosing the right times for doing these activities. You need to help your dog enjoy his/her regular activities without risking him/her having a fever later on. And, to do that, you need to choose to do these activities in the morning, when there is a better chance of warmer weather.

how cold is too cold for dogs

Also, you need to make sure that even walks can’t be for longer than 15 minutes, because their paws can get so cold fast and easy.

Also, you might want to get your dog a dog coat if you felt that he/she might not handle this weather, and of course, if you have a single, short-coated dog, it is very recommended to get him/her a coat, and help him/her get used to it.

Tips and trick to help your dog accept the dog coat:

Well, first off, you need to make sure that you got your dog the best dog coats that is made especially to help your dog feel comfortable while wearing it. Because we don’t want him/her to suffer from skin problems after winter.

Therefore, you might want to check that dog coat, that I highly recommend because I used to use it for my dear dog in winter, and let me tell you; it was amazing! So, you might want to check it and get your dog one before you miss the winter offers.

Then, you need to know that some dogs are not comfortable with wearing clothes, so it might take some time to make him/her comfortable with the idea of wearing a dog coat. And here are some tips to help you do that fast:

  • Make him/her play with it first.
  • Let your dog smell it and touch it.
  • Give him/her treats to stay calm.
  • Avoid forcing your dog to wear it.
  • Once you put it on your dog give him/her treat for not taking it off.
  • Use positive words.
  • Avoid making him/her wearing it while he/she is busy or distracted with something else.
  • Also, make sure that he/she is not having any skin problems or the coat’s material is making him/her uncomfortable.
how cold is too cold for dogs

Last, but not least. Now, you know how to help your dog survive the winter weather with our getting sick and without having any problems related to the weather.

However, it is very important to understand that not all dogs are the same, so make sure that you ask your dog’s veterinarian before winter on what you should and what you should not do with your dog in winter to help him/her spend good and healthy days in that cold winter.

Moreover, I really can’t wait to see you cute furry four-legged friends in their winter coats, I bit they look incredibly awesome. Please, make sure to bless the comment with some of these cute pictures.

Related Questions:

Should I force my dog to stay home all winter?

Well, to cut a long answer short, no. Your dog needs some space, and he/she needs to get some fresh air, play, and train as he/she used to do. It is a part of their day, don’t take that from them, because, at the end of the day, it is an energy and your dog will have to get it out in a way or another.

So, don’t force your dog to stay at home. just choose the right time for him/her to go out.

Ghada Harhash

Whenever the time of talking about ANYTHING comes, I find myself talking about my two dogs Leo and Blacky. It is a struggle that every dog owner understands. So, if we are talking about success, my dogs succeded in learning new tricks, if we are talking about failure, my dogs failed to make me hate them, if we are talking about love, my dogs are the pure form of true love, last but not least, if we are talking about kids, guess what! I have two. So, yes, it is all about my dogs. Therefore, you will find me here today, and every day, talking about, with and for dogs. It is my favorite subject, and since you are here, I believe it is yours, too. But, if you are interested in reading about other topics such as relationships, travel tips and tricks, and more. You can check my twitter account @ghaadaah_ where you get to know me, and I get to know you better.

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