Do Dogs Get Cold in the Winter?

Dogs are like school kids who cannot wait for recess so they can go outside and play. However, it may be difficult for them to keep up with their routine in the winter.

Dogs can get extremely cold in the winter, and they can even experience hypothermia or frostbite. You can do some things to help your pup when the weather gets chilly. You can get them a warm sweater to wear, and you can also get them a pair of booties to protect their paws.

Winter temperatures can be brutal, but the good news is that you can make it better and safer for your dog. If you want to know if dogs get cold in the winter, check out this article.

Do dogs get cold in Buffalo Grove, IL

What is Frostbite?

Frostbite is tissue or skin damage that can occur in freezing temperatures. The paws, ears, and tail are most commonly affected, and the dog’s skin may turn blue or slightly gray. They may also feel cold to the touch. There could be pain and swelling from frozen skin. Frostbite can also lead to blistering or ulceration of the affected areas. Parts of the dog’s skin tissue may die and become black.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is when your dog’s body temperature drops significantly and gets below average due to being out too long in freezing weather or if their fur is wet and they are in a cold, windy environment. Hypothermia can be fatal, as it may cause heart or blood flow issues and problems with the immune system or respiratory system.

Ideas to Keep Your Dog Protected in the Winter

Most pet parents know it is necessary to keep their pups safe in the summer and not leave them in a hot car. However, weather conditions can be just as detrimental to dogs in the winter. The following include some safety tips for you to make sure your fur baby is safe when the weather outside is cold and rigid.

Limit Time Spent Outside

Your dog’s cold tolerance varies based on certain factors:

  • Activity level
  • Length of coat
  • Body fat
  • Overall health

You may need to shorten your pup’s walks in very cold weather because there is a winter risk of frostbite and hypothermia during this season. Your dog’s paws, ears, and nose are all exposed to frosty weather. You should only be taking your dog outside if they are going to exercise.

Pets with health issues or older pets may find it difficult to withstand the cold. These babies should be protected from getting frostbite. When it comes to winter, ice is also a danger. Your dog may slip and slide on the ice and can risk getting seriously injured.

Put a Sweater or Jacket on Your Dog

Certain types of dogs, such as small dogs or dogs with short hair, may need coverage for their cold little bodies. You could get your dog a sweater or jacket for the cold weather. You want to make sure it fits them properly. Measure your pup’s size around the neck, across the shoulders, and around the chest. The sweater should be comfortable and not too tight.

Try Some Dog Booties

Your dog’s paws are a susceptible area of their body. Bare paws can become frostbitten, and it would be wise to check their paws for any indication that their paws have been affected by the cold once you are both back inside. You may want to purchase a pair of dog booties, which can protect their paws. There are even booties you can get that will serve the dual purpose of protecting your pup in both the summer and winter.

Wipe Your Pup Down

During walks, your dog’s feet, legs, and stomach may be a magnet for de-icers, anti-freeze, or other chemicals that may be toxic. Once you are back indoors, wash your pup’s stomach, feet, and legs with warm, soapy water to eliminate the substances, and make sure that there is far less of a risk that your dog may be poisoned after they lick their fur. Wrap their paws in a towel to heat them.

Do Not Allow Your Dog to Lick Ice

De-icers are used to melt ice on driveways and walkways. These agents are toxic to dogs. Do not let your pup lick the ice, as de-icers are frequently used in the winter. If it looks like there has been a de-icer used on the sidewalk or any other area, do not allow your dog to lick the ice. If you need to use de-icers, use non-toxic deicers, as they are safer for your pup and other pets in your neighborhood.

Palm Balm

Winter weather can damage your dog’s paws. Dog paw balm is like a human moisturizer that heals dry or cracked skin. Winter is hard on pups, and that includes their skin. As far as your dog’s skin getting cracked, there are several culprits:

  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Salt
  • Deicing chemicals

Dog palm balm penetrates your dog’s skin and provides it with moisture. Only use products that were exclusively formulated for dogs.

Stay Indoors

If the weather is dangerously cold, you can always stay inside and cuddle with your four-legged family member. Get your pup a cozy winter blanket if they want to curl up and get some rest. Fleece is a popular choice. Another option for your dog is to get them a heated bed.

Some beds have power-off protection and heat control, which makes them safe for your pup. The cord is chew resistant, and the bed is anti- electric shock. It will give your pup warmth and give them a nice place to lay on. Always keep the heating pad flat and do not fold it.

As a general rule, longer-haired pups can tolerate the cold more, but all dogs should be kept indoors if the temperature is below zero. The above items would be perfect for a dog who wants to keep themselves warm and toasty.

How Cold is Too Cold for a Dog?

Some dogs can tolerate the cold more than others. It is the same with summer; some dogs like it, and other pups get overheated. The following include considerations you must take when trying to figure out if your pup can endure the cold weather:

  • Coat type: Certain breeds of dogs have long hair and may tolerate winter weather better. Those with short hair may not do as well.
  • Size: Smaller dogs and toy breeds may have more difficulty than other dogs
  • Weight: Thicker dogs will fare better than skinny ones
  • Age: Older dogs and younger pups may run into trouble when the weather is nippy
  • Health: Dogs with weaker immune systems may not be able to produce enough body heat to keep them warm

More active dogs may not mind the cold as long as they get some exercise out of the deal.

How Do You Know Your Pup is Too Cold?

Winter is not just tricky for humans; it is also challenging for your dog. You want to be extremely careful with your dog’s body temperature because if the weather is too cold, it could be dangerous for them. They can get very cold, and it can trigger specific reactions. If you observe any of these indicators, bring your pup inside:

  • Shivering: Excessive shaking is a sign that they are experiencing weather that is too cold for them
  • Cold Ears: If your dog has cold ears, especially around the edges, you need to get them inside
  • Whining: Whining is your dog’s way of letting you know they are incredibly uncomfortable
  • Loss of energy: If your dog appears to be very sleepy, it could be a sign of hypothermia
  • Hiding: You may see your dog hiding behind various objects to get away from the cold
  • Curling up: If your pup is curled up in a ball when they are outside, it means they are freezing
  • Limping: Your dog’s paws may be unprotected and freezing

You must ensure your pup gets out of the cold as soon as possible. Hypothermia and frostbite are severe conditions and can be fatal. Also, you should not leave your dog alone outside during the winter.


Winter presents several challenges to pups, and it is essential to know the signs that your dog is too cold. It is too cold for most dogs when temperatures get below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Always be prepared to help your dog warm up when they get back inside, just like you would if you had been out!

At Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital, we care about your pet and its health. Call us at (847) 394-1128 for any questions regarding outdoor conditions and your pet’s wellness.

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About Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital

Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital has been a part of the Buffalo Grove community since 1969. Our veterinarians serve Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Palatine, and the surrounding areas with the best veterinary medicine year after year. Our commitment to pet health runs deep, and we’ve proven our skill and compassion by becoming an AAHA-accredited Animal Hospital, the highest accreditation veterinary practices can receive.