Not all dog breeds are cut out for winter’s chill. A dog’s cold tolerance will vary depending on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health.  

Which breeds can and can’t tolerate the cold. 

  • Dogs with thick double insulating coats and bushy tails often in combination with smaller ears to prevent frostbite and  wide paws covered with snow repellent fur, like Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and Samoyeds, have been bred to withstand the cold.
  • Small, toy, and miniature shorthaired breeds don’t generate or retain enough heat to keep warm in the winter. 
  • Dogs that sit low to the ground, such as the Welsh Pembroke Corgi, have bellies that are low enough to brush up against snow and ice rendering them vulnerable. 
  • Lean shorthaired breeds like the greyhound may also need extra protection against the cold.

How age impacts a dog’s ability to handle the cold.

  • Older Dogs

Older Dogs fall prey to health conditions such as arthritis, weakened immune systems, and declining internal organ health, which has a tremendous impact on a dog’s ability to regulate heat. 

  • Puppies

Puppies are generally smaller and have less insulating fat and muscle mass so they have a tough time regulating their body temperature. Once the weather gets below 30°F or -1°C , a puppy’s outdoor time should be limited. 

If your dog is used to the warmth of the indoors, the drop in temperature can be quite a shock.  

How to Protect your Dog on Walks.

  • Keep Walks Short
  • Short walks and bathroom trips can help to get your dog accustomed to the weather.
  • Be Cautious of Ice
  • Avoid ice to prevent your dog from slipping and potentially getting injured.
  • Protect Your Dog's Paws
  • Keep the bits of fur in between your dog’s toes well-trimmed to prevent ice balls from forming. Consider dog booties for an extra layer of protection or use a washcloth dipped in warm water to wash your dog’s paws.

Whether your dog spends most of its time indoors or outdoors, a few changes will ensure your dog is protected from the elements. 

How to Keep Your Dog Safe Outside.

  • A Sturdy Elevated Structure
  • This minimizes heat loss and will provide shelter from the rain, snow, and strong winds.
  • An Appropriately Sized Space
  • Shelters that are too big will be too drafty and won’t allow the space to fill up with your dog’s body heat. You can use a puppy-sized dog crate lined with a blanket in the doghouse until your pup has grown enough to fill up a larger space.
  • Provide Plenty of Unfrozen Water
  • Be sure your dog has plenty of unfrozen water to drink. A pet-safe heated water bowl can help prevent freezing over.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe Inside.

  • Keep antifreeze, batteries, deicers, and cleaning products stored safely out of reach.
  • Make sure your dog has a nice cozy spot to sleep in away from any drafty air. It might seem like a great idea to place your dog’s bed near a heater or radiator, but this can cause overheating and discomfort.
  • Be cautious when using space heaters as dogs can get too close and burn themselves or even accidentally knock the heater down causing a fire.
  • If you have an older dog with joint conditions, a thick memory foam bed could help them stay warm and provide extra support.
  • To keep your puppy warm, you can add extra blankets that they can burrow into or just add a thick fleece blanket.

 Credits: Dr. Marc Valitutto