Dogs are descended from wolves and because of this people tend to think that dogs don't feel the cold. The truth is, there are some temperatures which are just too cold for dogs. Prolonged exposure to cold weather can put your dog in danger of hypothermia and frost bite. Use common sense and don’t take your dog outside on very cold days.
How Cold Is Too Cold,
A temperature of 4-5 C (39-41 F) Is definitely too cold to take your dog outside. A lengthy period at this temperature can be life threatening. At around 7 C (45 F) there is still some danger and your dog should only be outside for short periods. At 10 C (50 F) this can still be unsafe for older or weaker dogs and you should keep a close eye on them. At 10-15 (50-59 F) most dogs should be quite safe.
However, the actual temperature should only be taken as a guide and there are other factors which need to be considered. Wind can make the temperature feel much colder and wind chill should be taken into account when you are considering taking your dog outside.
Some Dogs Are Better Able To Cope With Cold Than Others
There are dog breeds which have been bred in cold climates. These breed usually have a thick double layered coat. Breeds of this type include Newfoundlands, Samoyeds and Siberian Huskies. Dogs with darker coats will absorb more heat from the sun, even on winter days.
Because smaller dogs have a larger surface area to volume ratio, they tend to get colder quicker than large dogs.
Fatter dogs have more insulation than thinner dogs. They tend to get lose heat more slowly. However, overall the risks associated with being fat tend to outweigh this advantage.
Dogs can become acclimatised to cold weather and a working dog that is outside all the time will be able to tolerate colder temperatures than a companion dog who is inside most of the time.
Whatever the breed or condition of dog you have, exercise caution when taking him outside in cold weather.
How To Recognize Hypothermia
Hypothermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature becomes abnormally low. It is a potentially deadly condition. Symptoms of mild hypothermia include shivering, weakness and lack of mental alertness. As his body temperature drops further, your dog will exhibit slow, shallow breathing. Low blood pressure and muscle stiffness. At the stage of severe hypothermia your dog will have an inaudible heartbeat, dilated fixed pupils, difficulty breathing and eventually, coma.
What To Do If You Suspect Hypothermia.
If you suspect a dog has hypothermia call a vet immediately. Move the dog to a warm place and cover him with blankets. Use warm water bottles. Be careful of electric blankets – they can cause burns.
Other Considerations for Dog Owners In Cold Weather
Many products are used to melt snow and ice. Some of these, including salt, can be harmful to a dog’s paws. Try to keep your dog off areas that have been treated with chemicals. If he does get chemicals on his feet, wash him with clean warm water or use baby wipes to remove the chemicals when you get home.
Dog boots will help keep your dog’s feet warm and dry. Some dogs will wear them and some won’t. Either way, it can often be difficult to get a pair that fit correctly.