In the cold winter and autumn months, when the temperature drops below freezing, we humans always bundle up in warm coats and protect our ears and fingers with hats and gloves. But as a dog owner, it's easy to wonder if our dogs also feel the cold and wet weather. How can we know if a dog is cold when it's cold and wet outside?
Dogs have fur to keep themselves warm, but it's not always enough. It depends a lot on the breed and the thickness of the fur as to when a dog starts to feel cold, but all dogs have the same ways of signaling the problem to their owner. In this article, we have gathered the signs to look out for when you have your dog out in the cold, wet weather and provide answers on how to check whether your dog is freezing.
WHICH DOGS ARE MOST PRONE TO GETTING COLD?
As mentioned, there is a big difference among dogs when it comes to feeling cold. Some dog breeds are bred for the cold, such as Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Akita, Tibetan Terrier, Chow Chow, St. Bernard, and Newfoundland. It will be easier for them to stay warm compared to smaller dogs with thinner fur and less body fat. Breeds like Chihuahua, Greyhounds, Whippet, Yorkshire Terrier, Great Dane, and Weimaraner are more prone to getting cold.
Many dogs start to feel cold at around seven to four degrees Celsius / 44 to 39 Fahrenheit. Additionally, wind and water can also play a role and make the dog feel cold more quickly. However, extremely cold-sensitive dogs may show signs of feeling cold even at higher temperatures, while well-insulated dogs can often handle temperatures below freezing. Nevertheless, it's always important to keep an eye on your dog in frosty weather regardless of the breed.
In addition to breed, size, and fur thickness, age and illnesses can also affect a dog's tendency to feel cold. Older dogs and very young puppies are more susceptible to getting cold, and if the dog suffers from hypothyroidism (reduced thyroid function), arthritis, heart disease, or kidney disease, you should be extra cautious. If your dog is sensitive to the cold, you can consider getting a jacket for the dog or using a warm fleece coat like our Recovery coat, which can help the dog retain its body heat before getting cold.
During winter, it may be tempting to let your dog's fur become thick and long, as it should help keep them warm. However, it's still important for certain dog breeds to maintain proper grooming to avoid discomfort and fur and skin issues. You can choose to have their fur trimmed shorter in the summer compared to winter, but it's crucial to maintain grooming year-round if you choose to trim your dog's fur. If your dog gets wet and cold with long fur, it's even more important to dry and warm them quickly with a drying coat, so they don't remain wet for extended periods.
7 SIGNS THAT YOUR DOG IS FEELING COLD
- SHIVERING FROM COLD: You've experienced it yourself. When the cold seeps into your body, you start to shiver, and the same goes for dogs. It's their muscles' attempt to generate warmth. For some, it may be a slight shiver, while for others, it may be persistent trembling. However, dogs can also shake due to excitement, energy, or nervousness, so it doesn't always indicate that they are feeling cold. But it's an easy sign to notice.
- TUCKING THE TAIL BETWEEN LEGS: To retain as much body heat as possible, dogs may tuck their tails between their legs or curl up and lay their ears flat against their heads. Dogs also exhibit this behaviour when they feel threatened and nervous, but if there's nothing nearby that could scare the dog, the low temperatures could be the cause.
- WANTING TO GO BACK HOME: If you're out on a walk in the cold, and your dog seems reluctant and tries to turn back, it could be a sign that they are feeling cold. Perhaps they pull you towards the car door shortly after getting out or only walk a short distance before wanting to go back through the front door. In that case, it could indicate that their fur is not enough to keep them warm at that moment.
- BEING SLUGGISH AND TIRED: If you feel like your dog is walking slower than usual or lying down and appearing tired, it could also be due to the cold. This can happen because the cold can slow down the dog's movements, and they will try to conserve body heat and not expend too much energy.
- SEEMING NERVOUS AND UNCOMFORTABLE: If your dog whines or barks and appears nervous and restless, it may be because they feel uncomfortable in the cold and wet weather.
- SEEKING SHELTER: If your dog seeks shelter during your walk, it's a clear sign that they don't feel comfortable in the low temperature or rain. They may move towards a canopy, a bench, a bus stop, a tree, or similar spots and be reluctant to leave.
- LIFTING THEIR PAWS OFF THE GROUND: When it's cold and wet, the ground beneath our feet also becomes chilled. This is especially true if there's snow or the temperature hovers around freezing. If a dog's paws start feeling cold, they will repeatedly lift them, even when standing still, in an attempt to get away from the cold ground.
CAN DOGS BATHE IN WINTER?
Even when the temperature on land is comfortable, the water can still be cold. It takes longer for water to heat up than the air, especially when it comes to the ocean. Some dogs love to take a swim in the sea or a lake regardless of the season, but it's important to keep a close eye on your dog and not let them stay in the cold water for too long.
When the dog comes out of the water, its body will have difficulty warming up, especially in autumn or winter when the temperature hasn't risen to warmer levels yet. Therefore, it's a good idea to get the dog dry and warm as quickly as possible to avoid unnecessary issues.
You can easily and smartly achieve this with a drying coat for your dog. Instead of spending time and energy drying with towels, you can simply dress the dog in the drying coat, which does all the work for you. The super-absorbent material in the Siccaro drying coats absorbs moisture and water, leaving the fur dry in no time, while keeping the dog warm.
The most important thing when it comes to protecting your dog in the cold is to keep a vigilant eye on your four-legged friend, be prepared for shorter walks on extremely cold days, and make it easy for the dog to get dry and warm again afterward.