Dogs are our closest and furriest of friends. That’s probably why we tend not to worry about them getting too cold. But with the wild winter weather from coast to coast—from ice to snow to freezing rain—these storms aren’t showing any signs of letting up any time soon.

All of this cold weather might have you wondering, do dogs get cold? The short answer is yes. But that doesn’t mean that walks and playtime outside have to end. Walking, running, and playing outside is good for the physical and mental health of dogs and their humans. We’ll show you what to keep in mind so you can protect your pup when the weather gets cold.

How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs?

A dog’s fur does offer some protection, but how cold is too cold? It depends on the type of dog and the type of weather. Here are a few things to consider when making decisions about your pup’s comfort level:

  • Coat type — Some dogs are born to be in the cold. If you have a Siberian Husky, for example, they have double-layered coats and can tolerate the cold much better than other dog breeds. Dogs with thin coats, like Greyhounds, are more likely to suffer in cold weather.
  • Coat color – Black, brown, or other dark-colored coats can absorb more heat from sunlight, so these pups tend to stay warmer than their light-colored furry friends when it’s sunny out.
  • Size – Just like with humans, body size also plays a role in regulating temperature. Small dogs tend to get colder faster than large dogs do, so keep that in mind as you navigate the weather patterns.
  • Weight – Fat is designed to insulate us and keep us nice and warm. The more fat a dog has, the less likely they are to feel the cold. But don’t let your pup put on too much weight just to protect them from the cold winter.
  • Age and health – Young, old, and sick dogs are especially vulnerable when the temperatures drop. They aren’t able to regulate their body heat temperature as easily as healthy pups in their prime, so they need a bit more TLC when it’s cold.

 

There are also different types of weather to keep in mind:

  • Wind chill – Cold wind can penetrate a dog’s coat and they can get cold more readily.
  • Dampness – Any moisture–from rain, snow, or even heavy fog–can soak through a dog’s fur, making it much more difficult for them to stay warm.
  • Cloud cover – Your dog might feel colder on a cloudy day because they won’t be able to absorb any heat from the sun.

Warning Signs That it is Too Cold For Your Dog

Regardless of your dog’s disposition or the weather, it’s important to stay in tune with your pup.

Thermometers are helpful to gauge the actual temperature, but pet parents need to keep an eye on their fur babies to watch for signs of distress or discomfort.

Monitor your dog’s behavior for:

  • Shivering
  • Whining
  • Anxiety
  • Holding up one or both paws

 

If you notice any of these behaviors, head indoors, turn on the heater, or grab a blanket and proceed to the nearest couch for snuggles.

Keeping Your Dog Warm in the Cold

Believe it or not, dogs can actually get hypothermia and frostbite. These conditions are not unique to us. Once the temperature gets to about 20° F, your dog could be at risk. If you’re outdoors, make sure your dog stays active so they can generate enough heat to keep themselves warm.

If you’ve taken all the steps to keep your dog warm and you still see signs of distress, contact a vet right away. At Airvet, we have doctors on call–even after hours–to help you understand your dog’s condition and walk you through the next steps. We’re always here to help.

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