Understanding these 8 signs that your dog is feeling cold is vital

8 signs that your dog is feeling cold is vital

Understanding if your dog is feeling cold or not allows you to take prompt action to keep them warm and safe. Here are 8 signs that can help you recognize when your beloved canine friend is experiencing the discomfort of cold weather.

But first, know how cold is too cold for our pets…

How cold is too cold for a dog?

There is no one answer; different breeds tolerate cold temperatures differently.

A dog’s ability to withstand the cold depends on many factors, such as breed, size, body fat, fur, health, and medical condition, and whether they are an indoor or outdoor dog. 

As a general rule of thumb:

  • At 45°F (7°C) and below, most dogs will start to become uncomfortable
  • At 32°F (0°C) and below, small, thin-coated, young, old, and sick dogs should not be left outside for long
  • At 20°F (-7°C) and below, dogs become vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite

Now that you know the rule of thumb, let’s start with actual signs that will help you to recognize if your dog IS feeling cold!

8 signs your dog is feeling the freeze

While shivering is a 1# sign that almost all dogs irrespective of their breed show, let’s define the other 7.


A dog’s reaction to cold is similar to yours. Practically, if your dog shivers or trembles, it is probably too cold for it (as said above). Shivering is the body’s reaction to cold, as it tries to warm up.

Seeking Shelter

You can also tell the dog is stiff when it tries to find warm shelter, be it behind a couch or close to the radiator.

Curling Up

Pay attention to your dog’s sleeping or resting position. While most dogs tend to curl up when they sleep, they often end up quite relaxed if they feel warm. On the other hand, low temperatures will have them curl into a ball – they end up with their noses hiding close to their tails.


When dogs get cold, their muscles may tense up and become stiff as their body tries to conserve heat. This stiffness can manifest as a reluctance to move, slow or hesitant movements, or even shivering.

Cold Ears and Paws

When dogs are exposed to cold temperatures, their extremities, such as their ears and paws, are often the first areas to become chilled. You can detect this by feeling their ears and paw pads. If they feel cold to the touch, it’s an indication that your dog may need extra warmth and protection from the cold weather. 

Whining or Vocalization

Your dog may let you know he is feeling cold by whimpering, whining or even barking. This would be a good time to check the other signs like checking the temperature of your dog’s ears as explained above. You should help your dog to warm up if the signs show he is cold.

Excessive Licking or Chewing

When dogs are cold, they may attempt to warm themselves by licking or chewing their paws, legs, or other body parts. This behavior is an instinctual response to discomfort caused by the cold.


Assuming that you have ignored the signs mentioned above, hypothermia might kick in, and it can be hazardous. Here are some of the symptoms associated with it:

  1. The dog appears lethargic or sleepy
  2. It moves in a clumsy way
  3. Muscles seem to be stiff
  4. Breathing difficulties

If you notice these 4 particular signs in your dog, it’s advised to take them to your vet immediately as better precautions.

You may also read: Do Dogs Need Blankets In Winter?

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