Do Dogs Think, "Brrr"? What Your Pup Really Thinks of Winter Weather

by Shannon Lattin

 

As winter sets in, out from our closets come scarves, mittens and woolen hats. But what about our furry friends?

While a dog's natural coat provides some protection from the weather, he still gets cold.

How to Know if Your Dog is Chilly

Shaking

Just like people, dogs shiver when cold! But don't rely on this as the sole indicator of discomfort: watch for other signs, as well.3

Strange posture or behavior

If your pet is moving slowly, lifting his paws or looking anxious, he may be struggling with the temperature.4

Slow breathing

Keep an eye on your dog's breathing. Labored breaths may mean he's suffering. 3

Drowsiness

Believe it or not, a pet that's sleepier than usual might be feeling the chill. 3

Dry skin

Just as many people experience dry skin in winter, dry and flaky skin on your dog can be a symptom low cold tolerance.3

What Affects Your Dog's Cold-Tolerance?

Coat health

A healthy coat is your dog's first defense against the winter chill, allowing him to regulate his temperature more effectively.7 Depending on your dog's breed, his coat may thicken naturally as cooler weather sets in.1

Breed

Smaller and short-haired breeds will struggle more with dropping temperatures than larger dogs or dogs bred for outdoor romping.5

Weight

If your pup is lean, he'll feel the cold more than a dog carrying a bit of extra weight.1

Age/Health

Your dog is most cold-hardy during the prime of his life. If he's still a puppy, recovering from illness or getting on in years, he'll be a bit more vulnerable to cold weather.4

Keeping Your Dog Warm

Offer a warm indoor bed
  • Position your dog's bed in a warm part of the home. 3 Cold floors? Raise his bed off the ground. 1
  • Extra cold floors? A heated mat might be the ticket. 1
Modify his exercise routine
  • Take shorter walks.8
  • Watch for signs your dog is ready to head indoors. 8
  • Try indoor exercises, like playing fetch up and down the stairs. 8
Consider a doggie sweater.
  • Measure carefully for a snug, comfortable fit. 2
  • Go for easily washable material.2
  • Think about a waterproof option. 2

Prevent dry skin and maintain a healthy coat

Diet

A diet rich in protein and essential fatty acids encourages coat growth, strength and healthy oil production.7

Hygiene

Bathe your dog regularly, and consider a natural shampoo to avoid drying agents. Also, brush his coat often to get rid of excess hair.
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