As the temperatures continue to drop in Colorado Springs and winter approaches, it’s important to know how to keep your dog safe and warm during the winter months. If you’re not careful, winter can pose many problems for your dog and their health when they are exposed to cold temperatures.
At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we are passionate about the health and happiness of your furry friend, which is why we are committed to providing education that can help you provide the best care possible.
What Temperature is Too Cold for Dogs in the Winter?
Colorado winters can be harsh, but thankfully, we get some warmer days sprinkled in. So, how cold is too cold for dogs in the winter? The answer to this will vary depending on your dog’s breed, however, in most cases, 45°F is a good benchmark.
Dogs that are smaller, older, or have shorter hair are likely to be cold once the temperature drops below 45°F, while other breeds will only be affected once the temperature is at or below freezing (32°F). That being said, every dog is different, so if you notice your dog is more comfortable at a warmer temperature, you can adjust accordingly.
Dangers of Cold Temperatures for Dogs
Cold temperatures can be dangerous for dogs, especially if they are exposed to these temperatures for an extended period of time. In severe cases, chilly winter weather can lead to hypothermia and frostbite in dogs.
Hypothermia in Dogs
Extremely low temperatures can cause your dog’s overall temperature to drop, leading to hypothermia. Normally, a dog’s body temperature falls between 101°F and 102.5°F. Once a dog’s body temperature falls below 100°F, it’s considered a case of hypothermia.
Symptoms of hypothermia in dogs include:
- Pale Skin
- Low Heart Rate
- Slowed Breathing
- Dilated Pupils
- Lethargic and Sleepy
- Stumbling and Clumsiness
- Stiff Muscles or Lessened Mobility
Frostbite in Dogs
Another danger that can arise during the winter months is frostbite. When it comes to frostbite, your dog’s extremities, including their nose, tail, and paws, are most vulnerable. Frostbite becomes an issue in extremely low temperatures or when your dog is left in the cold for long periods of time. When temperatures are severely low, your dog’s blood vessels, especially those closer to the skin, can start to narrow or constrict as blood is sent to more important areas, which leaves the extremities at risk of freezing.
You can identify frostbite in your dog by looking for the following symptoms:
- Skin Discoloration
- Swelling and Pain in the Effected Area
- Coldness of the Area
- Skin Ulcers
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, whether for hypothermia or frostbite, be sure to contact your veterinarian to get appropriate treatment.
How To Keep Your Dog Warm in the Winter
As a pet owner, there are steps you can take to keep your dog warm throughout the winter, including appropriate shelter, clothing, and more.
Doghouse – If you need to leave your dog outside during the winter, ensure his doghouse is properly built and fully equipped to maintain a temperature that will keep your dog comfortable and healthy.
Dog Apparel – When going outside in the winter, whether it be for walks or a quick trip to go potty, you can help your dog stay warm with various dog apparel, including coats and boots.
Find Alternatives – If temperatures are extremely low, find alternatives for your dog when possible. For example, instead of playing in the snowy backyard, go for a walk so your dog can avoid getting his fur wet. You can also find an indoor dog park near you.
Keep Your Dog Safe & Healthy This Winter | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic
Are you ready for winter? Make sure your favorite furry friend is too! At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, our skilled and compassionate staff is here to help. If you have any questions about the best ways to keep your dog happy and healthy this winter, contact us today.