The better part of the country is experiencing record-breaking low temperatures this season, which for most of us has meant hunkering down inside and praying to anyone that'll listen that we don't have to step foot outside. But for dog owners, the cold weather holds a whole other set of concerns because your trusty pals probably have to venture outdoors to do their business (which means you might, too), and they can't communicate when their paws are frozen. That's why you need to keep an eye out for these signs your dog is too cold outside, because the polar vortex is no joke.
There are a lot of signs to look out for when watching your dog for signs that they're too cold outside, which are all made complicated by the fact that not all dogs are build the same way. Coat-type, size, and weight are all variables that vary drastically by breed and make a huge difference on what each dog is able to withstand. But even the fluffiest, largest dog can get chilly in the frigid cold, no matter how much they might appear to be built for the snow. It is really important to protect our four-legged friends when it starts to get dangerously cold outside.
When the temperatures hit below freezing, you need to start keeping an extra close eye on your dog. PetMd advises dog owners to watch out for temperatures that dip below 20: "Once temperatures drop under 20°F, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia and frostbite." On top of that, wind chill can also affect the feeling of the air, making it feel degrees colder that it actually is.
And as with humans, frostbite is very dangerous for dogs (it involves discolored skin on their paws, swelling, and blisters), and as a dog owner, you of course want to avoid this at all costs. So it's best to catch signs that your dog is too cold outside early on. Here's what to look out for when you're walking your dog in the tundra.
It takes most dogs, especially large ones, a real dip in temperatures in order to start shivering. If you spot your pup shivering, it's time to get inside. Smaller dogs or those with lighter fur are much more sensitive to colder temperatures, and those are the furry friends who can benefit from those stylish doggy sweaters or even booties to ensure they are staying as warm as possible when they have to venture outside to do their business in the cold.
While your dog might not be able to speak, they can definitely let you know when something is wrong and that they're feeling too chilly. If your dog starts acting anxious or wanting to be held when they otherwise wouldn't while outside, that can be a sign that they're too cold, according to Embrace.
As we seek the shade and cooler temperatures when it's hot, your dog might express the same reaction that we would in polar temperatures: seek out warmth! In the case of your pup though, this could look like they're seeking shelter under a bush or table outdoors. They're simply trying to tell you that they're trying to escape the cold.
Whining or barking is one of the clearest ways your dog is trying to communicate with you that they're too cold. Now, if your dog never stops barking in general at anything and everything when they're outside, that's probably just their personality, but look for insistent barking with eye contact when the temperature is below freezing, advises the Charleston Animal Society.
If your otherwise energetic dog is starting to slow down, walking when they would normally be running or not pulling on the leash as they typically would, take that as a sign that the cold is getting to them. Just like we begin to slow down when it's dangerously cold, so does your dog. Take note and get your dog dried off and warmed up slowly with warm blankets indoors.
The Ann Arbor Animal Hospital, no stranger to the cold temperatures in Michigan winters, explains, "Most dogs outside with you will show by shivering or holding up a leg that they would rather be somewhere else when they are too cold." Fair enough, furry friend!
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