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As the cold weather approaches, one common question that seems to be on every pet parent’s mind is, “How cold is too cold?” This question is usually met with a complicated answer but fortunately, there are precautions that you can take to prevent any damage to your dog.
Physical activity and good mental stimulation are important for the overall well-being of your dog. But what about during freezing cold weather? Our pets still need physical activity to keep them fit and healthy but do the dangers of going outside outweigh the disadvantages of staying inside? The first thing that pet owners need to understand is that not all pets are the same. There are various ways in which they differ.
Variables That Affect How Different Dogs Feel Differently About The Cold
Some dogs might find the weather warm and cozy while others will run in search of a hot shelter. There are many different variables that can affect how different dogs feel about different climates.
- Coat color – Darker colored coats can absorb more sunlight than lighter colors can. So dogs with black, brown and other dark coats are usually warmer than dogs who have lighter coats.
- Coat type – Dogs like Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, or Newfoundlands have double-layered coats that are thicker in comparison to other dogs. These thick coats make them the most tolerant to really cold weather conditions. These breeds are also technically from Northern areas where the climates can drop to drastic numbers so other than their thick coats, they also have physiological, behavioral, and anatomical attributes that make them more tolerant to the cold weather.
- Weight – Body fat is a natural insulator. The heavier dogs can withstand much colder conditions than thinner dogs.
- Size – Smaller dogs tend to get colder than larger dogs. Mostly because smaller dogs have a larger surface area to volume ratio.
- Conditioning – Dogs who have already been accustomed to cold temperatures can handle these conditions much better than dogs who have just been introduced to these conditions.
- Health and Age – The very old, the extremely young, or the sicker dogs are not able to regulate their body temperature in accordance with the weather conditions. Healthy dogs that are in the prime of their lives need less protection from the cold.
Different Types Of Cold Weather Conditions
There are factors that you have to consider in order to decide whether the weather is too cold for your dog. The temperature on the thermostat is not the only thing that can determine the climate.
- Dampness – Even if the weather isn’t that cold, going for a swim, rain, heavy fog, snow, or anything else that can soak through his fur could chill him to the bone.
- Wind chill – When there is a brisk breeze out, it is better to stay inside. A strong enough breeze can cut through your dog’s coat and decrease his ability to insulate against the cold weather.
- Activity – If you have an active dog who loves to play, he can generate enough energy needed to keep him cozy even while he’s out in cold weather conditions.
- Cloud Cover – Even dogs with darker coats have a hard time staying warm during cloudy days. Dogs need to soak up the warmth of the sun in order to feel warm.
If you find any dog out in the cold that you think may be suffering from hypothermia, call the vet immediately for help. Cold temperatures put dogs and other pets at risk of developing hypothermia and frostbite.