How Cold is too Cold for Dogs

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How Cold is too Cold for Dogs

The key to keeping our dogs happy and healthy is mental stimulation and exercise outdoors, but when it’s cold outside should we be concerned about our canine friend.  Most people believe as dogs have fur, they are better protected from the cold, however, our four-legged friends are just as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.                                                          
So, how cold is too cold for dogs and what temperature is too cold to leave a dog outside?

What temperature is too cold for dogs? 

The answer is no dogs are equal, an outdoor temperature may feel balmy to one dog and may send another in search of shelter, there are several factors. These include the dog breed, size, coat-thickness and how healthy your dog is.                                                                                           
It’s important to be aware of temperatures when it comes to knowing how cold is too cold for dogs. A temperature above 45°F can be tolerated by most dogs, if the temperature falls below this, dogs prone to the cold may become uncomfortable. Upon temperatures reaching freezing(32°F) dogs should be monitored carefully, especially if you have a dog that is small with a thin coat, is sick, or old.

Dogs are prone to hypothermia and frostbite when the temperature plummets below 20°F. In freezing conditions use caution, dogs should not be left outside for long periods, even those with long hair and thick coats. 

So, we know how much cold dogs can tolerate but how cold is too cold for puppies; hen it comes to pups and young dogs the same factors as above apply.

Factors to consider

In gauging what temperature is too cold for dogs and how cold is too cold to walk your dog, there are several variables that affect how dogs respond to the cold:

Physical conditions of the dog

  • Coat type: A dog with a thick double-layered coat are well insulated for colder climates, while those dogs with thin coats like greyhounds or beagles suffer the most in cold weather.
  • Coat Colour: On a sunny day dark-coated dogs can absorb significant amounts of heat from sunlight, which keeps them warmer compared to light-coated canines.
  • Size & Breed: Dogs of larger size with more meat on their bones will absorb the cold better than smaller dogs who get colder more readily. 
  • Health Condition: Very young, old and poorly dogs who are not able to regulate their temperatures compared to healthy dogs in their prime require greater protection from the cold for dog lifespan.
  • Active Level: If you have an active dog who loves the outdoors, they may be able to keep their body temperature high to remain comfortable in the cold.

Environmental conditions 

  • Wind chill: When it comes to how cold is too cold for a dog, you must consider wind chill. Extremely low wind chill can quickly contribute to frostbite.
  • Rain & Snow: Rain and wet snow can soak through a dog’s fur causing them to become chilly even if the air temperature is not that low. For any unexpected winter illness, it is worthwhile getting dog insurance for your pet.
  • Cloudy Vs Sunny: For some breeds, cloudy days tend to feel cooler than sunny days, dogs like humans need the sun to stay warm. However, some are more comfortable staying out for longer periods in cloudier conditions.

How to protect dogs from cold weather

To ward against the cold and keep your canine warm against the outdoor elements takes a little forethought.
It’s important your dog maintains body temperature to protect them from hypothermia and their paws are covered well to protect against frostbite.

Dog Coats

Investing in a good quality dog coat can see your dog through the elements, keeping them safe and dry. Dog coats are waterproof, machine washable and most come with a zipper on the back to easily attach a leash harness.

Dog Boots

Dog boots help ease all concerns when it comes to how cold is too cold for dogs, after all, your dog deserves to walk in comfort when outdoors.
Most boots are designed for all weathers that are durable and have protective soles. 

 6 Tips for your dog’s winter safety

  • In freezing conditions never leave your dog outside.
  • After walking always wipe your dog’s paws and pads to get rid of salt or chemicals.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash, inclement weather can hide scents if your dog gets lost.
  • Antifreeze should be used with caution and any spills cleaned up immediately. Dogs tend to lap up this sweet tasting toxin.
  • Never leave your dog in a cold car.
  • You should have an emergency blizzard plan in place for your dog, with enough food and medications on hand.

Best winter weather dog breeds

Cold weather dog breeds are made to withstand the harshest of winters, working and living in the coldest of climates is second nature to them.
If you’re looking for a hardy breed here is our list of the best dog breeds for winter weather:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Keeshond
  • Newfoundland
  • Saint Bernard
  • Siberian Husky
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Norwegian Elkhound