How cold is too cold for your dog? The answer is tricky because dogs vary in size, amount of fur, activity level, age, weight, and cold tolerance.
Especially when temperatures go below freezing, we need to consider whether our dogs would benefit from extra protection against the elements. We recommend some form of foot protection be used when the ground reaches freezing. You may see your dog prance around or refuse to put their paws down on cold ground—this is a good indicator that your dog is in need of boots.
Factors that affect cold tolerance:
A Dog’s Coat
In general, dogs with an undercoat (such as Alaskan Huskies) can play in the snow up to 30 minutes without harm, but even Huskies can feel the effects of cold temperatures if they are not accustomed to the cold temperatures. Single-coated and short-coated dogs such as Boxers and Bullmastiffs have a low tolerance to cold weather, and a coat is recommended in temperatures approaching freezing. Remember that wind chill, rain, and snow can lower a dog’s temperature even further.
A Dog’s Age
Very young and very old dogs are also sensitive to cold temperatures, and may lack the agility and coordination to walk on icy surfaces. A boot/jacket combination is recommended for these dogs. Cold temperatures can also activate arthritis, so be sensitive to older dogs or dogs with health issues.
A Dog’s Weight
Dogs under 20 pounds are generally more susceptible to hypothermia. They have less fat and are generally closer to the ground, making them more prone to chill. For these breeds, full-coverage body protection, such as that found on our Cloud Chaser™ storm jacket, is recommended.
Signs of hypothermia:
• Stiff muscles
• Low pulse and respiration rate
• Cold to touch (body temperature below 95°F or 35°C)
• Lethargy which eventually leads to unconsciousness
Treatment of hypothermia:
1. Move animal to shelter
2. Cover with warm blankets
3. Give dog a warm liquid/sugar mixture to drink
4. Call your veterinarian
Prevention of hypothermia is key to avoiding injury. To keep your dog warm when the mercury falls, be sure to arm your dog with the essentials in cold weather gear. Our recommendations include Ruff Wear Grip Trex™ Boots, Bark’n Boot Liners™, and a Cloud Chaser™ or K9 Overcoat™.
Bark at Us: What other items do you recommend for keeping your dog warm?