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How do I tell if my dog is too cold outside?

Photo of papillon dog in the snow

Pet owners must remember that just like humans, dogs can get too cold in winter, resulting in frostbite and hypothermia. Recognizing the signs that your dog is feeling the chill is crucial for their safety and well-being. Here’s how to tell if your dog is too cold and how to keep it warm.

1. Shivering. Dogs shiver to generate body heat, much like humans. If you notice your dog trembling or shivering excessively, it’s a clear indication that they’re too cold.

2. Curling up. Dogs instinctively curl up into a tight ball to conserve body heat when it’s cold. If your usually active and playful pup suddenly opts for a tight ball shape, they’re trying to stay warm.

3. Slowed movements. Cold weather can cause your dog to appear lethargic, have difficulty walking or exhibit stiffness in their joints. If your dog’s movements seem sluggish or strained, it’s a clue that the cold is affecting them.

4. Seeking shelter. Cold dogs will seek shelter or attempt to burrow into warm, insulated areas. A dog that insists on hiding under blankets, in a sheltered spot or behind furniture while outside, is telling you they’re uncomfortable in the cold.

5. Whining or vocalizing. If your dog is whining, whimpering or barking more than usual while outside, it’s a sign they’re unhappy with the temperature.

6. Cold paws and ears. Feel your dog’s paws and ears — if they’re frigid to the touch, it’s a sign that your dog’s extremities are too cold. Additionally, if your dog is continuously lifting its paws off the ground, it means its paws are too cold.

How to keep your dog warm

Now that you can recognize the signs of a cold dog, here are some tips on keeping your pet warm and safe during chilly outdoor outings:

1. Dress them up. Consider investing in a doggie sweater or jacket for added insulation. Many breeds, especially those with short fur, benefit from an extra layer in cold weather.

2. Use dog booties. Protect your dog’s paws from cold surfaces, salt and ice by outfitting them with dog booties. They also offer better traction on slippery surfaces.

3. Limit outdoor time. It’s best to keep outdoor activities short on particularly cold days and take frequent breaks indoors.

4. Provide adequate shelter. Ensure your dog has access to a warm, sheltered area when outdoors.

Visit a Scarborough vet clinic

At Bellamy-Lawrence Animal Hospital, your dog’s well-being is our top priority. At our dog hospital, we can treat your pet for frostbite and hypothermia, and we offer 24-hour emergency care. Contact our Scarborough vet clinic today to book an appointment.

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