How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Protecting your dog from extreme weather conditions is crucial in order to maintain your pup's health optimal. But how to know when the weather is too cold for your dog? What does their tolerance to cold depend upon? Read on and discover all the answers related to dogs and cold weather.

Most people are pretty aware of the fact that dogs do not tolerate high temperatures and hot weather. There have been numerous campaigns reminding people not to leave their pets in parked cars because of the risk of overheating and death. But what not a lot of people know is that very cold weathers and low temperatures can also pose their dogs to the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

Extreme temperatures affect our furry friends just like they affect us. Dogs are sensitive to cold and can easily suffer from health issues caused by very low temperatures if they spent too much time outside with a lot of snow, ice, and wind. This is why we should know when it is crucial to keep your dog in the comfort of your home in order to protect him from unnecessary health risks.

This topic usually worries owners of small-sized dogs for a good reason. Small dogs, especially the ones with short coat, can suffer on less extreme temperatures significantly more than medium or large sized dogs on really low temperatures. That’s why it’s no wonder that most of these owners buy winter clothes or even boots in order to protect their pups from the cold.

All the dogs that are small, short-haired, hairless or of Southern origins need additional protection and special care during these months. It is necessary to know when it is the right time to keep them inside or to find new ways of warming them up.

On the other hand, Northern breeds such as Huskies and large sized dogs with long, dense fur, will handle cold weather much better. But no matter how big and tough your big dog might seem to you, he can still catch a cold which is why it is important for each owner to know how cold is too cold for your dog.

Before letting you know what temperature is dangerously low for your dog, let’s first answer some important questions related to dogs and cold weather.

Can Dogs Stay Outside In The Cold?

It depends. Your dog might enjoy the snow and cold weather if he’s a Northern breed and is used to harsh conditions. However, large dogs will also need a warm shelter when the temperatures get extreme. So, the answer would be that is not really recommendable to leave your dog outside in the cold unless he is a mountain dog that can endure these weather conditions.

Of course, if your dog is really small, leaving him outside in the cold is not an option and it even might be wise to shorten the amount of time spent outside in walking.

If your dog is old or has health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart diseases, the freezing weather might even worsen their health and cause further problems.

How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Too Cold?

Dog cold tolerance varies from breed to breed and is also based on their type of coat, activity level, and overall health. Too much snow and a lot of ice is usually a sign that the weather is too cold for 99% of dogs.

Follow the infographic below and discover when the temperatures are potentially unsafe for puppies and when they get really dangerous.

However, if it’s too cold for your dog, you will notice that he might change his behavior. Some dogs will rather get vocal and start whining or barking, while others will present difficulties in breathing or even walking. Do not ignore these signs, as your pup might be really suffering in the extreme cold.

If you go out with your dog and he starts shivering, it means that it’s too dangerous for him to be outside. If you notice the shivering, rush to your home and warm your pet as soon as possible. It could mean he is already suffering from hypothermia.

What Temperature Does A Dog Get Cold?

Even though some might assume that coat protects dogs very well from the cold, it actually is not helpful with harsh cold weather. Dogs can be as sensitive as humans to the low, winter temperatures.

Depending on the size and the breed of your dog, the temperature that makes him feel cold might be very different. When the temperature falls below 50 ºF it can start to be unsafe for small to medium-sized dogs. Larger dogs will feel the same amount of cold at 40 ºF.

Basically, when you start to feel cold, your dog will too. Except for Northern breeds like huskies and malamutes that handle harsh winter conditions more easily.

However, puppies and older dogs are more prone to feeling cold at even higher temperatures.

When Should I Bring My Dog In From The Cold?

When the outdoor temperature drops to 25 ºF or under, it is unsafe and potentially dangerous to leave your dog outdoors for too much time.

Leaving a dog out in the very cold weather might end up in hypothermia, frostbite and paw injuries. More sensitive dogs, such as puppies, older dogs as well as short-haired pups should not stay outside for longer periods of time after the temperature falls below 40 ºF.

How Can I Keep My Dog Warm In The Winter?

Keeping your dog warm might be of your interest if your dog still has to stay outside or if your dog is of a small-sized breed and needs some extra protection.

If your dog stays outdoors during the winter, it is important to provide him with a warm and dry shelter. Ensure you find good, warm bedding that will keep the shelter comfortable. Also, if the shelter your dog will be staying during winter days is cold, find a way to provide additional heating.

When owning a small-sized dog, you probably know that there are sweaters, booties, and jackets that make handling winter much easier for your little pup. It might seem silly to see, but these are really necessary in order to maintain your dog’s health during the cold days.