Winter weather can be dangerous for smalls dogs and pets. Your small dog and other animals, as well as yourself, should be properly cared for during the winter by understanding the dangers.
What can I do to protect my small dog from winter weather? Temperatures below 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1 dedgree Celsius) are dangerous for small dogs. Also, take preventative measures with heated pet houses, thermal blankets, and dog clothing. Be sure to monitor your pet closely during the winter months so that you can react swiftly before they succumb to the cold.
Several factors will decide how safe your pet is during the winter months. We plan to make you aware of the warning signs, preventative measures, and steps you can take to protect your dog this winter.
How Cold is Too Cold?
Small dogs are able to handle cooler temperatures as low as about 45 degrees Fahrenheit before they start to feel more uncomfortable. Around 35 degrees Fahrenheit and below is the danger zone for them. Anything below 20 degrees Fahrenheit can quickly lead to negative health problems, including frostbite and death.
Wind chill, wetness, and accumulation of snow will also be a deciding factor for how much your dog can handle and will lead to getting colder, faster. If it is actively snowing or raining, or if the wind is blowing fiercely, then the cold will reach the dog’s skin at a faster rate. Obviously, the danger to your pooch will come much more quickly then.
Can Small Dogs handle Cold Weather?
Smaller dogs often don’t have undercoats, or they are relatively short, which will also lead them to be unable to handle cold weather effectively. Because of their size, they generally have less thermal mass, and the cold will reach them internally more quickly than a larger dog.
Small dogs also have to exert more energy when trekking through snow and ice. This will lead to exhaustion. Then they will not have enough energy to warm their bodies. Check out this article from Breeding Business for more information about how snow and ice affects dogs.
If your dog is sick, elderly, or malnourished, they are more likely to suffer in the cold weather. Arthritis is affected by the cold, causing the pain to increase and their ability to be mobile to dissipate. Other common concerns for smaller dogs in cold weather include:
- Frostbite – Frostbite can happen faster due to their lack of body fat and heat retention.
- Hypothermia – A dog’s temperature can drop quickly, causing organ failure. For humans, the first response should be to warm the body by removing cold clothing and getting dry, drinking warm liquids, staying in a warm environment, and being wrapped in warm and dry blankets. Similar action should be taken for pets.
- Slow heart rate – Leads to organs not working properly. This can cause your dog to be unable to seek out warmth or alert you of their danger. This can be the result of the cold, the energy forced from them when trekking through snow or ice, or a mix of both.
Compared to larger dogs, who often are able to handle the colder weather for a longer amount of time, smaller dogs will need help from their owners more so during the winter months. There are several things you should keep track of and monitor, as well as steps you can take to avoid any dangers related to the cold weather.
Warning Signs of a very Cold Dog
Several things should be looked out for during the cold months when you have a pet, particularly on the smaller side.
- Are they shivering? If they are shivering, you need to bring them to a warm area immediately. This means they are too cold and can’t warm themselves anymore. Keep this in mind when choosing the distance of your walks from your home so you can warm them up right away when their threshold of the cold has been met.
- Are they lifting one paw? Dogs often do this when their feet are in pain, are too cold, or are having trouble walking in general. This is a sign that frostbite and hypothermia could be oncoming, and measures should be taken to avoid this at all costs.
- Are they whining? Dogs tell us when something is wrong by whining, barking, and otherwise acting uncomfortable, hurt, scared, and so on. Listen to them.
- Are they slower and unable to make it over obstacles? Dogs who can’t climb through the snow, keep up with you, or are trying to lie down in the snow or otherwise cold area, likely have no choice but to do so. They’ve used all their energy, the cold has reached them too much, and they are fading away. This is an emergent situation that should be rectified swiftly and safely.
- Are they not as excited as normal about going outside? This is them telling you that the cold is not pleasant for them. Don’t leave them outside longer than they need to finish their potty break.
Preventative Steps and Solutions
This doesn’t mean that your small dog should be locked up inside. For one, that wouldn’t allow them to go potty outside, nor would they fare well without fresh air and space. This simply means that you should take some steps to prevent and solve the dangers involved for your pet in the winter months.
Some preventative steps you should take are:
- Consider a heated pet house like this one for your dog. It is designed to be safely left outside and is waterproof and designed for a porch or other outdoor area.
- If you already have a pet house, consider this outdoor pet heating pad. It can work with most pet houses and will heat your pet when they lay on the mat. It has a chew-proof cord and is safe for outdoor use.
- Another heating instrument would be this dog house heater, which will comfortably and safely heat your pet’s house without needing a special mat for them to lay on.
- A brooder lamp such as this will also contribute to helping your pet stay warm when they are next to it. It works by transferring heat to any animal that is close, which is why it is often used in chicken coops.
- A thermal blanket, or multiple blankets, such as this one, is important to have round for your pet to warm themselves when needed inside your home and pet houses. Thermal pet peds such as this one is also a good idea to consider.
- Get your dog a sweater or winter clothing to help keep them warm. When you take them out, bundle them up as you bundle yourself up. Make sure not to put anything on them that inhibits them relieving themselves, though. These sweaters, and a reflective jacket like this one, will help them retain heat, keep moisture and wind from them, and will help them stay warmer and safer in the winter.
You also need to make sure that you monitor your animal closely during the winter months. Should your pet ever become too cold, do the following:
- Immediately carry them safely home.
- Get them dry and remove any clothing you may have on them.
- Wrap them in something warm and dry.
- Keep them near a safe heat source if able.
- Give them warmer water if they can drink.
- Seek a vet’s help if there are any signs of frostbite, hypothermia, or other inclinations that they are not going to recover on their own.
- Take steps to avoid these dangers next time.
Small dogs are more susceptible to cold weather, winter weather conditions, the frigid winds, and the ailments that may follow. The dangers should be avoided as much as possible, be sure to only take your small dog outside for potty breaks when the temperatures are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, especially. You should also be aware of the warning signs of a too cold dog and react immediately should they exhibit any of them. Monitor your pet closely during these months.