Do dogs feel the cold?

It’s definitely starting to get a tad chillier in the early mornings and evenings; the nights are well and truly drawing in and winter is lurking just around the corner, leaving many of us looking forward to warm winter woolies and cozy nights in.

While we definitely feel the cold in the winter and need thick, warm coats and boots to keep the chill out, do our furry four legged friends feel the cold as well?  Holidays4Dogs finds out.

Many dogs like Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Newfoundland dogs have been bred in colder climes and are therefore better able to withstand quite harsh, low temperatures.  But it turns out that even healthy dogs, well protected with a layer of fur can still feel the cold and others, such as small breeds, or those with very short coats will most definitely need extra protection on cold autumn and winter days.

It’s not just outdoors where dogs may feel the cold either; some dogs can feel cold indoors too and it’s important they are well protected from draughts and damp. Ideally, they should have their bed off the floor, with plenty of layers of bedding and in a place where they will not be subjected to a cold draughts.

Many dogs can be perfectly fine and will be well protected by their own natural coats, but there are quite a few breeds that will appreciate an extra layer when walking in cold winds, frost and snow.

Tiny and toy dogs are unable to regulate their temperatures quite as well as larger breeds, so they will almost certainly appreciate a coat lined with sheepskin, or a knitted wool jumper.  Likewise, dogs with ‘thin’ coats like Greyhounds, Whippets and Great Danes will benefit from a little extra warmth and protection from the elements during the winter months.

Elderly dogs too will need extra layers to help them stay warm outdoors because, like puppies and tiny dogs, they can’t regulate heat so well when they get older and many won’t have the energy to run around and keep warm like their younger pals!

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave your dog shivering outside in the garden for too long when the weather is bitter.  Dogs that generally live indoors where there are central heating systems or warm cozy fires, get used to this, and so may be more inclined to feel the cold when they do go out.

If dogs do get too cold they can get hypothermia, pneumonia and frost bite but being cold and wet over a long period of time can weaken their immune systems, especially if they are already vulnerable, very young, or getting on in years.

How can you tell if your dog is cold?

Here are a few signs to look out for which will indicate that your dog is feeling uncomfortable in the cold –

  • Trembling or shivering – just like us, this is the body’s way of trying to warm up and points to the dog feeling cold.

  • Holding up paws – if the ground is freezing, your dog may well pick up his feet and walk in an uncomfortable manner.

  • Tail tucked in – this could be another sign that your dog is feeling cold.

  • Whining.

  • Cold ears – if your dog’s ears are cold to the touch this could indicate he is getting too cold.

Check out our next Holidays4Dogs article on how to keep your dog warm and cozy during the winter months.