How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs Before They Freeze Like Ice?


During the winter, temperatures can drop below freezing levels. Some pet owners may be worried about walking their dogs during that time. Not to mention, some owners keep their dogs outdoors in their yard. So, how cold is too cold for dogs?

Some dog breeds can tolerate cold temperatures, other dog breeds are less tolerant. Dogs with thick fur won’t feel cold and won’t need a coat in temperatures higher than 43°F. Small breeds and breeds with short hair can feel cold and will need at 45°F.

Even though dogs are quite resourceful in cold weather, there are temperatures that they can’t endure. How cold is too cold for a dog depends on the age, breed, and health of the dog. Let’s explain this thoroughly.

What Temperature Is Too Cold For Dogs

What Temperature Is Too Cold For Dogs

First of all, there’s a point where, no matter the breed, the dog will feel cold. Basically, any freezing temperatures are too cold for a dog. While dogs can endure it for a few minutes, extended exposure to cold may lead to hypothermia.

Dogs, just like humans, can get hypothermia. When exposed to freezing temperatures for too long, the dog’s heart and other organs slow down which eventually leads to a low body temperature. [Source]

Temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit are too cold even for dogs with thick fur. Dogs need a coat and boots in freezing temperatures. Walks should not last too long.

If you react quickly enough, hypothermia should be treatable. However, hypothermia can be fatal, it leads to the shutting down of all body organs.

Do Dogs Need Coats In Winter

Do Dogs Need Coats In Winter

Since dogs do get cold in cold temperatures, should you get a coat for your dog? Well, that depends on how cold it gets in your area and the breed of the dog.

As I said, temperatures below 32°F are too cold for dogs. However, some dogs feel cold even in higher temperatures. These breeds will need some type of clothing during their walks. 

  • Dogs with thick fur won’t need a coat for temperatures from 40°F to 32°F. 
    There are some breeds that we call winter dogs. These breeds were domesticated in Northern regions where the temperatures are cold most of the time. Breeds like the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, and Saint Bernard are all dogs that can handle cold weather. [Source]Your dog doesn’t have to be a winter dog necessarily. As long as your dog has thick fur, it should be able to withstand the usual cold weather during winter. These breeds won’t need a coat in temperatures 40°F-32°F. If your dog looks cold though, you should get it a coat.
  • Dogs with short hair need a coat for temperatures below 42°F. 
    Short-haired dog breeds get cold quite easily. If you feel cold, a short-haired dog feels cold as well. Although a short walk without a coat won’t cause issues, buying a coat is still recommended.Dogs do not feel comfortable while cold. They shiver a lot, and they tend to look for shelter instead of walking. So, a dog with short hair should wear a coat in temperatures below 42°F.
  • Puppies and elderly dogs need a coat for temperatures below 42°F. 
    Now, puppies and old dogs have a low tolerance for cold temperatures. They do not have as much energy as adult healthy dogs, so they can’t regulate their body temperature well. That’s why they have a hard time in cold temperatures.If you have a puppy or an old dog, you should get it a coat. They should wear a coat in temperatures below 42°F.
  • Dogs with heart and kidney problems should wear a coat in cold temperatures. 
    In cold weather, some body organs slow down. Dogs that have heart or kidney issues are more susceptible to the cold. So, if you have a dog with health problems, consider wearing a coat during walks in winter.

[Related Article: Why Are Dogs Noses Wet? Is It A Sickness Symptom?]

Do Dogs Need Boots

With dog coats, you protect the dog’s body, but what about its paws? All dogs have exposed paws, so the thickness of the fur doesn’t really matter here.

Dogs can get frostbite, especially if it’s freezing cold and there is snow outside. This rarely happens though. For a dog to get frostbite it has to be out in the cold for quite a while. Even stray dogs rarely get frostbite.

However, getting boots for your dog is something I highly recommend. No matter how well your dog can tolerate the cold, its paws are exposed. The boots can provide some additional comfort during those walks in the cold weather.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Cold

The best way to find out whether you should get some winter clothing for your dog is to see if it’s cold during walks. Here’s how to tell if your dog is cold.

  • Dogs often shiver while cold. 
    This is something that most short-haired dogs do when they are cold. If the dog is cold enough it will shake visibly. Just put a hand on your dog and see if it’s shivering. If it’s shivering, it’s too cold for the dog.
  • Dogs tend to clamp up when cold. 
    What do humans do when cold? They bring their knees close to the stomach. That’s what dogs do too, they clamp up, in a curled-up position.
  • Dogs avoid putting their paws on the ground when cold. 
    Because the paws are in direct contact with the cold, and the paws are exposed, dogs that are cold will hold their paws off the ground.
  • Dogs that are cold will look for shelter. 

[Related Article: 10 Signs That Your Dog Is Crying For Help Or Under Distress]

What To Do If My Dog Is Cold

When your dog gets too cold, you should help it with warming up to avoid hypothermia. My advice is, if you see your dog visibly shaking and seeking shelter, you should warm it up.

  • Cover in fleece blankets. 
  • Offer wet food and water
  • Bring your dog back home or provide shelter for an outdoor dog. 
  • Get a coat and boots for your dog.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs To Sleep Outside

Dogs shouldn’t sleep outside in temperatures below 40°F. Dogs with thick coats can handle colder temperatures. However, extended exposure to cold temperatures can be bad for the dog.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Cold At Night

If your dog gets cold during the night, it will start shivering and whining. More so, your dog will look for shelter. Either it will curl up somewhere in the house or in your bed.

Tim Adams

Tim has experience of 15 years with a wide variety of pets. Anything animal-related is his passion, so he is here to share some good practices to know about owning pets.

Recent Posts