How Cold is Safe for Your Dog?
Is Your Dog Built for the Cold?
With the winter months upon us many wonder if their dog is safe outside in the cold. How cold is safe for your dog? Read below as we'll discuss different breeds, dog sizes, and ages as it pertains to cold weather.
As a general rule of thumb, dogs who have thicker coats, such as; Huskies, Samoyeds, Malamutes, etc.; or who have undercoats, like; Collies, Corgis and St. Bernards, are more prepared to withstand cold weather and snowy conditions. On the other hand, dogs with short coats and/or no undercoats, like; Dobermans, Whippets, Greyhounds, Dalmatians, Bull Terriers will have a much harder time staying warm in the snow.
Consider also that puppies, elderly dogs and small breeds with short legs, like; Dachshunds and Chihuahuas can also be at higher risk during the colder months. The cold weather can make it a lot harder for senior dogs to get around by exacerbating aches, pains and arthritis. Small, short-legged breeds can struggle to walk on wet, icy or snowy surfaces for long amounts of time. And last, but not least, energetic puppies might make you think that the cold weather is the last thing in their mind, however, we need to keep in mind that puppies have significantly less body mass to generate heat and a puppy’s coat is not fully developed making it even harder to keep warm.
What Temperatures are Dangerous?
As the temperature falls below 45 degrees, it’s time to pay attention to your dog’s outdoor activities and how long they are in the cold. Dogs with short hair or no undercoat (as described above) may start to get cold at these temperatures. At 32 degrees, smaller dogs, young puppies, older dogs and dogs in short hair/no undercoat should have limited time outdoors in the cold. Once the temperature drops below 20 degrees, we recommend that dog owners pay close attention to their dogs as these very cold temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia fairly quickly. Wind chill, moisture levels, and snow can further affect how a dog reacts to being outside. At these temperatures, dog time outside should be limited to a minimum of quick potty breaks. An easy guide to follow is if you are not comfortable outside your dog might not be either.
What are the Signs of a Dog Getting Too Cold?
When you’re outside in the cold with your dog be attentive to signs that may indicate he needs to go inside. If your dog is left alone outside, periodically check on him to determine when it’s time to come back in the house. Here are a few key signs your dog should come inside from the cold include:
Whimpering, whining, or excessive barking. This maybe your dog trying to “verbally” tell you he is too cold. If your dog is is normally loud or verbal it may be harder for you to identify this so you may need to look for other signs.
Unwillingness to move. If your dog stops walking, moving or playing it may be time to go indoors. Other signs include prancing on their feet or holding up their paws. When you get inside, check his paws for snow or ice that may have gotten caught in the crevices of his footpads, they can irritate and be painful on their paws.
Shivering does not need too much explanation. If you notice your dog is shivering, he’s had enough of the cold and it’s time to come inside.
Rather than show signs listed above, some dogs become anxious when they are too cold. They may even become fearful and try to turn around or head back toward home. Be attentive for behaviors that are out of the ordinary when spending time outdoors in colder temperatures.
Things to Watch Out for During the Winter Months
Rock Salt: this is the type of salt is used to keep the roads and driveways ice-free in the winter months. The rock salt can damage your dog’s paws, but it can also be extremely poisonous if ingested. Keep an eye out for it on your walks and avoid it where you can. If you cannot, be sure to rinse your dog's feet as soon as you get back.
Antifreeze: is used in our vehicles to keep them from overheating, and shows a green color when it leaks onto the ground. The danger is that this liquid is proven to be lethal for most animals, including our dogs. Avoid it when you are with your dog, but if you think he has injected it you should go straight to your veterinarian.
Frostbite: yes, even your dog can get frostbite. You will notice frostbitten skin becomes very pale with a bluish/white hue due to a lack of blood flow. When the area is warmed and blood flow returns, the skin becomes red and there is swelling accompanied by peeling”. Severe frostbite can lead to painful lesions and possibly amputation of the body part affected by it.
We hope you have a wonderful and safe winter season with our dog. If you are mindful of the temperatures and your dog's exposure you’ll be sure to have a great season with your furry friend.
- Jan 12, 2020
- in Pet Blog