dog covered in snow

How to Know When Your Dog is Too Cold

by Sam Salvati - 11/1/19

Although there is a general consensus about what is cold and what is warm among humans, due to the wide variety of breeds, mixes, and coats, there is no universal definition of cold for dogs. Here are some tips to help you assess when your dog is too cold, so you can keep your pet comfortable.

Canine Characteristics

In order to determine how much cold is okay for your pup, you first must consider the vast array of different dogs' attributes. The primary attributes to consider are their age, size, and coat quality. Young or old dogs, small dogs, and thin-coated dogs with smooth, short hair are most susceptible to the cold. Although there is no exact temperature cutoff for dogs, more sensitive dogs will become cold in 40°-45°F weather. Cold weather dog breeds can remain comfortable in temperatures as low as 15° or 20°F weather. However, rain levels and wind speeds can also affect the comfort of most dogs, even cold weather dogs.

Signs Your Dog Is Cold

Look out for signs your dog is cold in order to protect him from potentially harmful conditions. Shivering, lethargy, weakness, stiffness, and shallow breathing are all signs of potential hypothermia. Hypothermia can prevent your dog from producing heat and can be fatal. Frostbite is another condition caused by the cold. If you notice your pup continuing to lift his paws as if to avoid touching the snowy ground, he may be feeling pain from the cold snow, which can lead to frostbite. Barking, whining, and whimpering can also be signs of physical discomfort due to cold. Although this isn't always the case, it's important to be wary of potential warning signs. If you believe your dog is suffering from one of these conditions brought on by the cold, visit a veterinary clinic near you.

Protective Gear

Although the cold can be potentially harmful to our furry friends, with a little bit of planning and protection, the snowy outdoors can be grounds for playful fun. Cold weather dog gear is available at most local pet stores. Coats for dogs for cold weather can be fashionable and protective. Cold weather dog boots can also keep your dog warm and clean while playing in the cold. Although each of these pieces of equipment can aid in preventing discomfort, they do not entirely protect your pooch from the dangers of the cold.

Outdoor Protection

If you live in a cold location, you may need durable and protective outdoor equipment. Cold weather dog houses are available for purchase in order to protect your dog from the cold while outdoors. You can also purchase heated bedding and heated bowls to maximize your pup's comfort. Dogs and cold weather don't always get along, but as long as you are aware and prepared, your pup should be able to survive the harshest of winters.

Pasadena native Sam Salvati is the adoring dog dad to Pablo, Ester and Farris. He enjoys keeping abreast of and writing about the latest developments in pet care.