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Dogs: The Dangers of Cold Weather


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Monday, 24 de November 2008

Dogs: The Dangers of Cold Weather
We tend to assume that dogs handle well with low temperatures since they are covered with fur. Actually, dogs can also feel cold and although the fur offer some protection, for some breeds, that is not enough.

There breeds selected to live in cold regions, but others are particularly affected by low temperatures, regardless of being indoors or outdoors. Dogs need time to get accustomed to cold and it isn’t healthy to dogs that are used to be indoors to be put outdoors during winter. Also dogs that used to live outdoors shouldn’t be brought inside during the day or switch between nights indoor and outdoors. This changes are has harmful to us as to dogs. However, in the last case, you can and should bring a dog indoor in exceptionally cold, windy or rainy days or nights.

Dogs that fit our climate the better are always developed in our region or in regions with similar weather. Bear this in mind when buying or adopting a dog.

Indoor dogs

Dogs that live inside with the family don’t suffer much with the cold outside. However, there are some precautions that all owners need to have with their dogs.


  • Buy outerwear for smaller and shorthair breeds, like the Chihuahua – Make sure it covers the neck to the top of the tail and that it protects the belly;
  • Trim the hair between the fingers to prevent the formation of ice balls;
  • Puppies are more sensitive to cold – Temperatures below 0ºC make more difficult to teach the dog to pee outside. Instead, teach to go to the newspaper;
  • If you took the dog to walk on the snow, wash the feet with cold water to protect the pads. Do the same thing with other body parts that have been in prolonged contact with snow, like furry long ears, for example;
  • Dogs lose track of scent very easily in the snow, so keep your dog leashed at all times.
  • Don’t leave your dog in the car for long periods of time. In the summer, cars overheat, while in the winter, cars become a refrigerator.

At home

  • Brush your dog regularly to prevent that the dry air from artificially heated houses dries the hair and skin of your dog;
  • Don’t trim the dog’s hair short during winter – In exceptional cases, provide him with adequate outerwear;
  • Because of the cold, indoors dogs generally become less active and it can be necessary to reduce the amount of food given. Talk to your vet before doing any change.
  • Create a warm place for your dog. Tile surfaces and other similar ones, become very cold in the winter.
  • Don’t bathe your dog – If you have to, make the fur is completely dry before letting him go outside.

Outdoor dogs

Toy dogs or dogs without a double coated aren’t suited to live outdoors, since they don’t cope the cold as well as big and densely furred breeds. These breeds are the best suited for cold weather, like Huskies, Samoyeds, Chow Chows, Newfoundlands, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Saint Bernard, just to name a few. But this doesn’t mean that owners shouldn’t take precautions. All outdoors dogs should have:

  • Dog house – Should be big enough so that the dog can turn and stand inside, but not bigger. Big dog houses don’t retain the heat as well as smaller ones. The dog house shouldn’t be at the floor lever, but a little big higher, to prevent rain to enter.
  • Shelter place – The dog house should stay in a sheltered place, without drafts or rain, so that the dog can come outside to eat and play.
  • Fresh water – In some parts of the country, the water freezes. Dogs should have water, in liquid form, at all times, or otherwise they may become dehydrated. To keep the water liquid, use deep plastic containers.
  • Food – Outdoor dogs may need more food to stay warm. Talk to vet before making any change.
  • Puppies – Don’t let a puppy outside in the winter. It’s more difficult for puppies to keep their body warm than for adult dogs.

If you want to buy or adopt a dog to live outdoor, pay attention not only to it’s ability to live in cold weather but in hot weather as well. If you feel that your dog is uncomfortable outside, bring him inside the house. After all, dogs are pets and see humans as part of their “family”.
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