How cold is too cold for my pup?
Just like humans, every dog is different both in physical ability to handle colder temps and in preference. If your dog is used to Florida weather and spent most their life knowing only warm temps odds are it’s going to take them awhile to adjust to a Maine winter. There are a couple factors that also lend itself to your dogs ability to handle cold weather.
- Fur. What kind of fur does your dog have? Short hair dogs tend to get cold a lot faster than long-haired dogs and dogs with two coats (husky) of fur do better than one coat. If you have a short hair dog I would recommend looking into sweaters and jackets for your pup. Just remember to make sure any clothing you put on your dog doesn’t restrict their movements and fits correctly.
- Size. Height and weight, just like humans, can be a big factor in dealing with the cold. Fat is a great insulator no matter what species you are so if your pup is a bit … husky they have a bit more insulation than a whippet. Now, don’t confuse fat as a good insulator as a means to over feed your dog and under exercise them. Their health should never be sacrificed for the sake of dealing with cold temperatures!
- Activity. Just like humans, dogs will warm up if they are exercising and running around. If you’re doing a slow walk with your pup and notice them shivering try picking up the pace a bit to get their blood flowing! Please don’t leave your dog tied up outside in the middle of the winter. Dogs don’t run around by themselves and if they’re cold they will probably just roll up into a shivering ball to try to stay warm. Just let them in your house or some place warmer than the ground. As a backpacker, I can tell you from personal experience it is VERY hard to keep in body heat against a cold floor. That’s why a lot of backpackers will use a sleeping pad under their Sleeping bag, that thin layer between your body and the ground can prevent you and your pup from losing a lot of body heat to the frozen ground. Also, the wind cuts right through their fur, even dogs with two cuts can have a tough time staying warm on cold windy days!
- Paws. Remember dogs mostly regulate their body temperatures through their mouths and their paws. This is why in the summer they pant and you’re told to wet their paws to cool them down a bit. Well, same for winter. If your pup is cold all the time try investing in some boots for your dog’s paws. I know most dogs hate things on their feet but if you take the time to find a good pair that are sized correctly it may help your pup enjoy those winter walks in the snow a bit more.
But most importantly remember every dog is going to be different. If your dog is shivering, get them somewhere warm. No one likes being cold so neither does your dog. Just pay attention to if your dog is enjoying themselves outside no matter hot or cold temp, you should hopefully be able to tell if you’re dog is done and needs to go back inside.