Does your dog give you the sad eyes when you take him out just because he doesn’t want to leave the couch or can dogs get cold outside?
Dogs aren’t that different than us when it comes to cold weather and winter storms. For some of us, a snowstorm brings out our inner kid. It also brings out the kid, or puppy, in our dogs. The expression of pure joy when they romp through a foot of snow is unmatched.
Other dogs, like others of us, aren’t too keen on the cold weather. They prefer lounging in the sun, perhaps with a favorite chew toy.
So is it just that some dogs have a preference for a cozy spot by the fire, or can dogs get cold outside?
Your Guide to Canine Comfort
Like people, every dog is different. Some dogs, like huskies or malamutes, enjoy cold weather. They have thick, plush coats, and they’ve been bred for generations to thrive in northern climates. Other dogs, like greyhounds, have thin, light coats that offer little protection from the cold.
According to PetMD, most dogs, regardless of coat, should be relatively comfortable in temperatures above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Smaller dogs, dogs with thin coats, and dogs in poor health may have trouble with temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And anything below 20 degrees could be harmful to any dog in certain circumstances.
There’s more to cold than just the temperature on the thermometer, though. Wind chill, dampness, and the amount of sunshine can all have an impact on how cold or warm it feels. A dry, sunny 32-degree day feels a lot different than a rainy, dark 32-degree day.
Activity levels also play a role in how warm or cold your dog feels. Vigorous activity like running or playing fetch can help your dog build up body heat which can help them feel warm.
It’s easy to see why each dog will react differently to the cold in different situations. Your best bet is to know your dog and keep an eye on them. PetMD recommends monitoring your dog. “If you notice your dog shivering, acting anxious, whining, slowing down, searching out warm locations, or holding up one or more paws, it’s time to head inside.”
Can dogs get cold outside? Yes.
Now find out how to keep them safe and warm.
No matter how cold it is, you and your dog will have to venture outdoors at least a few times each day. The American Veterinary Medicine Association recommends taking shorter walks and paying particular attention to older or arthritic dogs as they may have difficulty walking on snow or ice. They also point out that dogs with medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease may not be able to regulate their body temperature and “may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes.”
For dogs with short hair, one easy way to keep them warm is to get them a dog sweater. They might not like it at first, but with the right treats, they'll come to enjoy the extra layer helping them stay warm.
Watch the Salt
In addition to keeping your dog warm, winter brings along other dangers besides frigid temperatures. Your dog’s paws are especially at risk for injuries. Ice melt and rock salt work so well to clear ice and snow because of a chemical reaction that substantially increases their temperature. When your dog gets that ice melt stuck in his paws, it can burn him.
Try putting booties on your dog before you go for a walk. If that doesn’t work, wipe his paws down when you get home. You don’t want him licking paws covered in chemicals. Dogs Naturally magazine also suggests trimming the fur around his paw pads to help prevent ice from building up and causing discomfort.
Comfort Is Key
While keeping your dog indoors is ideal, make sure he has easy access to a warm shelter if you do have to keep your dog outdoors. An insulated dog house with thick, dry bedding and a waterproof door flap should keep your dog comfortable in moderate conditions. Always make sure he has access to fresh water, too, as dehydration is just as likely in the winter as it is in the summer.
Plan for Emergencies
Another way to keep both you and your dog warm is to plan for severe weather and keep an emergency kit handy. Make sure you have a five-day supply of dog food, water, and any medications your dog takes. You and your pet should be prepared for winter storms and always have an emergency plan in place in case you need it.
One other way to make sure your dog can get any medical care he might need is to ensure you have pet insurance. If you have a home insurance policy through Pekin Insurance, pet insurance is an affordable addition that will help you keep your dog healthy. Get in touch with your local Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more.