Do Dogs Feel Cold Or Hot?

You may have wondered if your dog feels temperatures the same way that you do.  Do they feel cold or hot weather the same way that people do?  Sure they do!  After all, your dog is a mammal, just like humans are.  That means that your dog is able to regulate his body temperature, up to a point.  But, after that point is reached, your dog is subject to feeling heat and cold like any other mammal.

The dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5-102.5degrees Fahrenheit or 39-39.5C, just a little higher than the human’s 98.6F or 36 degrees Celsius.  Although most dogs have a nice furry coat to keep them warm when it’s cold, if the temperature gets too cold they will feel the cold.  Dogs can develop hypothermia is they have extended exposure to a cold environment.  They can develop frostbite or die from this kind of cold weather.

For this reason, many people with small and Toy dogs like to put sweaters, coats and other clothes on them in the winter time.  These small dogs can have trouble generating enough body heat to keep them selves warm when it’s cold so the clothing can help keep them warm just as it keeps a person warm.  If you have a hairless breed or a dog with a single coat (as opposed to a double-coated breed which usually has thicker fur), you may want to consider putting a coat on your dog when he’s out in the cold.

The Nordic or Arctic breeds — Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Norwegian Elk-hounds, etc. — generally love the cold.  These dogs often prefer to be outdoors in the winter time, no matter how cold it gets.  Many owners of these breeds report that they keep the heat turned down low in the winter time to make their dogs happy.

(This is one reason why it’s impossible to dictate uniform standards of care for dogs.  Temperatures that would make a Chihuahua happy would make a Samoyed dog miserable.)

When it comes to heat, your dog can be just as sensitive to it as you are.  Dogs can be the victim of heat stroke if they are left in an enclosed space in the heat or even if they overheat themselves while playing or exercising outdoors.  Here, (short-nosed) breeds can be particularly at risk.  Breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Bulldogs and other short-nosed breeds need to be watched with special attention if they are playing outdoors in the summer.

Contrary to what many people think, a dog with a thick double-coat does not suffer more in the summer time.  A double coat has an insulating layer of fur next to a dog’s skin.  This protects him not just during the winter from cold, but it also protects him in the summer time from heat.  When you have a dog shaved or clipped down to remove his thick coat you are removing this insulating layer and removing his protection from the heat.  If you simply keep your dog groomed and brushed to remove dead hair you can provide much more protection for him from the heat.  Dogs will shed the hair that they don’t need in the summer or “blow coat.”  Brush out this dead hair that is shed and your dog will be protected against the heat while keeping most of his coat.

If you have a hairless dog or a dog with a thin coat you may need to apply sunscreen in the summer to prevent your dog from getting sunburn.

Whether you have a large dog or a small one, double-coated or hairless, take these precautions to protect your dog from hot and cold.


Mark Mansfield

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