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How cold is too cold.

January is here and for many North American families, it means snow, ice, and frigid temperatures. While time spent playing in the snow can be a fun and a great way to burn off some pent up energy, winter weather presents its own safety hazards for your pet. Every dog is different and depending on your pup’s breed, age and activity level, the cold will impact them differently. In this post, we break down what you need to know and how to tell “How Cold Is Too Cold for My Dog?”

How well your pup can tolerate colder temperatures depends heavily on their breed and what they're used to. Breeds that originate from colder parts of the world, like Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Samoyeds, etc., are physically better suited for the cold. They have what’s called an undercoat, a layer of soft fluffy hair beneath a coarse outer coat which helps protect against the elements, and stout furry paws perfect for navigating icy surfaces. Keep in mind though, that a Siberian Husky living in California would likely be affected by the cold if introduced to frigid temperatures, simply because they’re not used to it.

Breeds that do not have an undercoat will be far more sensitive to the cold and owners should consider dressing them in dog-appropriate outerwear as an added layer of protection when spending time in winter weather. Short-legged and toy breeds face the added challenge of having to wade through snow, which can result in exhaustion and feeling colder faster. If you own one of these small pups, you should plan to accompany them or be close at hand when letting them outdoors in colder weather.

If for whatever reason you plan to leave your mid to large size dog outdoors for any period of time during the winter months, be sure to have a clean, safe and spacious shelter for them. Keep dog houses up off the ground, provide enough room for them to easily turn around and a soft warm blanket they can lay on top of.

Be aware of signs your dog is becoming too cold. You know your dog, you can often sense when they’ve had enough but keep an eye out for the following:

  • Some dogs will seek shelter with their owners. Jumping at your leg and refusing to leave your side, almost as though they want you to pick them up, could be a sign your dog is ready to head inside.
  • Uncontrolled shivering. This is an important cue to be aware of. Some smaller breeds will begin to shiver when temperatures are cool but nowhere near freezing. It’s important to understand that shivering is a response to the body losing heat, even if you’re not feeling cold, your pup is and it’s time to head indoors.
  • Their body is cool. Feel beneath your pup’s fur. If their skin is feeling cooler to the touch, you can guess they’re cold and ready to go inside.
  • If you’re cold, they’re cold! As a general rule, pay attention to your own response to the elements. If you feel like you’ve had enough, it’s likely a good idea to bring your pup inside with you!

TIP: Feeding TLC Whole Life Puppy or Dog Food offers an excellent foundation for any dog, regardless of winter habits but you may find you need to increase or decrease their daily intake, depending on their level of physical activity. If your pup prefers the indoors during the winter and is getting significantly less exercise, you may want to feed slightly less food or offer fewer treats. If they’re spending time in the cold, you may find they require a slight increase in food to replace the calories they burn while outside. What’s important is to make minor adjustments and monitor your pup’s weight. Use the chart below as a guide and adjust as needed to maintain an ideal body weight throughout the winter months!

How cold is too cold.

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