Dogs are “endothermic” animals, which means that they can regulate their body temperature based on the temperature of the environment, hence, they can feel cold and heat. Thus, when dogs are cold in winter, they activate mechanisms to store their internal heat and on the contrary, in summer, they try to expel it.
How will I know if my dog is cold?
There are breeds of dogs that feel more chilly than others, and there are breeds that are better adapted to cold climates, such as Saint Bernard or the Siberian Husky. However, there are other breeds that have a thinner layer of fat and finer hair but are able to withstand intense cold weather, such as the Chihuahua or the Yorkshire Terrier. As evidence shows, the tolerance towards colder climates is much higher in the last two types of breeds.
However, it should be mentioned that, even if we have a dog whose characteristics are more adapted to cold, if it has always lived in a warm climate, it may have problems in cold conditions, since it has not adapted since the early stages of its life.
Dangers of cold weather according to the breed of the dog
Various studies have investigated cold tolerance levels in dogs and have concluded that larger breed dogs are more equipped for colder temperatures. There are three levels of cold and we should keep a check before taking our pooch outside. The first level requires being aware when we walk the dogs. Potentially dangerous weather requires that we take the necessary precautions to keep the dog warm. And critical levels situation requires that we not expose them to the cold for a long time, letting them only to relieve themselves.
Small breed dogs
Temperatures between -1°C and 4°C may pose a risk for some small dog breeds. The next limit that can be dangerous is -4°C. And it can be critical when the temperature drops below -6°C.
Medium breed dogs
Similar to small dogs, there are certain risks for medium breed dogs between -1°C and 4°C. The next dangerous level is from -4°C to -9°C. and it being critical when reaching -12°C.
Large breed dogs
Large breed dogs begin to enter a state of certain risk when temperatures are between -4°C and 1°C. When it drops below -9°C, we can say that it is potentially dangerous. However, when it drops below -12°C, the situation would begin to be critical.
Symptoms of dogs feeling cold
When it comes to dogs feeling chilly, the most common symptoms are shivering, sleeping curled up, moving slowly, dry skin, changes in breathing, and seeking warmth.
- Shivering: Just like us, shivering is the most obvious sign that a dog is cold. Muscles contract and relax rapidly and repeatedly as a mechanism in our body to try to generate heat.
- Changes in breathing: The cold directly affects the respiratory system, which can make it more difficult for your dog to breathe and even make your dog sick. For this purpose, you must be vigilant if your dog starts to cough or has mucus in the nostrils.
- Search for heat: When at home, they look for sources of heat such as the radiator or try to go out to the patio or balcony to sunbathe.
- Sleeping curled up or curled up: when dogs are cold at night, it is common for them to sleep curled up to try to stay warm. It is normal for them to do it more often than when it’s hot.
- You move slowly: Cold causes muscle stiffness, so your dog will generally move less and more slowly, as their muscles and joints will cause discomfort.
- Dry skin: the areas where our dog does not have hair, are more susceptible to drying out. For example, the nose area, the armpits, groin and at the ends of the ears.
How to warm my dog if he/she is cold?
When dogs get cold at night, we are often asleep. Therefore, it is important that you think in advance about providing them heat sources. Prepare a well-padded bed that is insulated from the ground . For example, if it’s very cold, you can place a blanket.
If your dog sleeps outside and you don’t plan on letting your dog come inside the house, try to create a place that insulates them from the cold so they don’t fall sick. In these cases, the best thing to do is a waterproof shed with an insulating layer, and place inside a mattress that is thick and fluffy and some blankets.
Dogs sometmes also feel cold in winter also when they step outside. If you see that your dog is having a hard time, you can put a sweater or coat on your dog that mainly covers the neck and trunk. You can also definitely bathe your dogs in cold weather, but remember to do so with hot or warm water and dry them well.
A cold snap in dogs can cause hypothermia, but also more serious consequences, such as frostbite on the tips of the ears or tail, or cold burns on the paws. Therefore, if your dog has caught cold, it is important to provide heat sources without air, such as heating pillows, as soon as possible. And if your dog’s condition is serious, then you must quickly take your dog to the vet.