Hypothermia in dogs
If your dog is exposed to low temperatures for longer periods of time, they could also suffer from hypothermia. This can be experienced locally, for example, freezing ears or paws. An overall hypothermia of the body can cause deep organ damage and even be deadly. Signs of severe hypothermia include tight and dilated pupils, difficulty in breathing and even coma.
What Dogs Do Best In Cold Weather?
Dogs that do well in cold weather have been bred to withstand cold, dogs with thick coats like Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountain Dogs, do well in the cold.
Bigger dogs with good health and body condition, and with thicker coats will do better than small dogs, dogs with thin coats, dogs with health problems, puppies, and senior dogs.
We’ve all experienced this one. After the heat of summer, 55 F can feel frigid, but after a long, cold winter, the same temperature can make us break out a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Dogs that are used to the cold handle it much better than those that aren’t.
Puppies, canine senior citizens, and dogs with underlying health problems cannot regulate their body temperatures as well as healthy dogs in the prime of their lives. Be sure to protect vulnerable dogs from the cold.
While broad generalizations are difficult, cold should not become a problem for most dogs until the temperature falls below 45 F, at which point some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable. When temperatures drop under 32 F, small breed dogs, dogs with thin coats, or very young, old, or sick dogs could be in danger if they spend too much time outdoors. Once temperatures drop under 20 F, all pet parents need to be aware that their dogs could develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia or frostbite when outside for extended periods of time.
Being outside is great for a dog’s physical and mental health. Walking, running, looking, sniffing, listening, and meeting old or new friends are all activities that help keep dogs happy and healthy. But what should we do when it’s cold outside? When do the risks of spending time outside outweigh its benefits? Let’s look at the dangers associated with cold weather and how we can still safely enjoy the great outdoors with our dogs in the winter.
On a clear day, black, brown, or other dark-coated dogs can absorb significant amounts of heat from sunlight, keeping them warmer in comparison to dogs with light-colored coats.
Why Dogs can handle cold weather better than Humans
Dogs get an unmistakable twinkle in their eyes the minute you reach for their leashes or open the back door. That’s because they know that they’ll be enjoying some fresh air and sunshine in no time. After all, when they’re outside, dogs have an endless supply of interesting smells to track down, squirrels to chase, patches of sunshine to lounge in, and, of course, stinky mud puddles to roll around in.
While dogs love spending time outdoors, it’s best to bring them in before bedtime to spend time with your family. But you might be wondering how long you can keep your dog outside safely during the day, especially in hot or cold weather. The answer is a little more complicated than you’d expect and varies according to your individual dog’s needs, health, and breed. Here we explore just how to determine when it’s time to call your pup back inside after a day of outdoor fun.
Dogs come in all sizes and breeds, which can affect how long it’s safe to leave them outside. While larger dogs with thick coats may enjoy outdoor romps for longer periods in chilly temperatures, their smaller single-coated and hairless counterparts, on the other hand, can spend more time outside on sunny days but not in the cold.
While small pups can spend a few hours outdoors in temperatures between 60ºF and 90ºF, keep outings in temperatures below 32ºF and above 90ºF to short spans of no more than 10 to 15 minutes, recommends Dr. Wooten.
Medium to large dog breeds like the Siberian Husky, Samoyed, Malamute, Newfoundland, and Bernese Mountain Dog are adapted to extremely cold temperatures because of their thick double coats. For this reason, they can stay outdoors longer in temperatures below 32ºF, usually for 30 minutes to an hour, says Dr. Wooten. Additionally, healthy arctic breeds can stay outside for indefinite period of time during chilly days as long as they are acclimated.
“The long guard hairs that form the outer layer of fur protect against snow or ice and can even shed water; the soft undercoat lies close to the skin and keeps a dog warm and dry,” says Alexandra Bassett, CPDT-KA, Lead Trainer & Behavior Specialist for Dog Savvy Los Angeles. While these double-coated dogs shed their undercoats in the summer to stay cooler, don’t leave them out for long in very warm temperatures above 90ºF.
Livestock-guarding breeds, who are typically medium to large in size can stay out for longer spans of time when the weather is temperate, between 60ºF and 90ºF, especially if they have a job to keep them busy, recommends dog trainer Danielle Mühlenberg of Pawleaks.