Winter and Dogs

As winter winds start to bite, it’s not just humans who need extra care – our canine companions can feel the chill too. Hypothermia, a dangerous condition that occurs when body temperature drops due to extended cold exposure, is a risk for dogs as well as people.

At WonderVet, we believe in responsible pet care, which includes understanding how to keep our dogs safe and comfortable during the colder months.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into what hypothermia looks like in dogs, identify the most susceptible breeds, and most importantly, share tips on how you can prevent it. Let’s make sure our furry pals enjoy winter as much as we do!


Here’s what you need to know:

  • Hypothermia in dogs can be recognized by symptoms such as persistent shivering and decreased activity levels.
  • Immediate action is crucial if you suspect your pet has hypothermia. Move them to a warm area and seek professional veterinary advice.
  • Practical measures like reducing outdoor time in chilly weather, providing insulating pet clothes and shelters, drying your dog when wet, and keeping a watchful eye can help prevent hypothermia.
  • Understanding Hypothermia in Dogs
  • Hypothermia in dogs is a health concern that arises when their body temperature falls below the typical range of 38 to 39 degrees Celsius. Should a dog’s body temperature plummet to under 37 degrees, this could indicate hypothermia. This can result from prolonged exposure to cold weather without suitable protection.


Ensuring our pets are comfortable and warm during the winter is key to warding off hypothermia.

How can you tell if your dog might be hypothermic?

Identifying Hypothermia in Dogs

A hypothermic dog may display signs like shivering, decreased energy levels, and reduced body temperature. Additional symptoms could include a weak pulse, shallow breathing, or even loss of consciousness in extreme cases.

The symptoms include:

  • Shivering: Often the first sign. Shivering is a dog’s way of trying to warm up.
  • Lethargy: Dogs with hypothermia may be less animated than usual, showing signs of fatigue and decreased interest in play.
  • Reduced Body Temperature: A drop in body temperature below 37 degrees Fahrenheit could indicate hypothermia.
  • Weak Pulse: A faint or slow pulse could suggest hypothermia in dogs.
  • Shallow Breathing: Changes in your dog’s respiration, like slow or shallow breathing, should raise an alert.
  • Loss of Consciousness: In the worst-case scenario, hypothermic dogs might become unresponsive or faint.

If you observe any of these signs in your pet during the cold season, reach out to a vet straight away. Early detection and treatment are vital.

Responding to Hypothermia in Dogs

Fast and appropriate treatment is vital if you suspect your dog is hypothermic. Here’s what to do:

Bring Your Dog Indoors

Remove your pet from the cold environment and take them to a warm area to prevent further heat loss.


Bundle Your Dog in Blankets

If they are wet, dry them off, and swaddle them in warm blankets, but avoid hot materials to prevent burns or rapid heating.


Warm Water Bottles Can Help

Use water bottles filled with warm water, wrapped in towels, and placed near your dog for added warmth. Be careful to ensure the water is not too hot to prevent burns.


Visit the Vet

Even if your dog seems to be recovering, it must be assessed by a veterinarian. Hypothermia can cause serious complications. Your vet can conduct a thorough examination and provide additional care as necessary.


Monitor Your Dog’s Health

Your vet might advise follow-up visits to track your dog’s recuperation. They can also guide how to protect your dog from cold weather in the future.


Acting quickly is key in treating hypothermia. Always prioritise safety and seek professional veterinary care if you suspect your dog may be suffering from hypothermia. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your pet’s health.


How to Shield Your Dog from Hypothermia

If you live in a region that experiences chilly winters, or if you’re planning a winter trip with your pup, taking steps to prevent hypothermia is vital.


Here are WonderVet’s tips to keep your dog safe from hypothermia:


Limit Outdoor Time: Restrict the time your dog spends outside in cold weather. If it’s freezing, keeping them indoors is the best option.


Offer Warm Shelter: If your dog needs to be outside, ensure they have access to a warm, insulated shelter that can protect them from harsh winds, rain, and snow.


Dress Them for the Weather: Consider dog sweaters or coats, particularly for small, short-haired, or elderly dogs. These provide an additional layer of warmth.


Dry Them Immediately: Dry your dog thoroughly if they get wet from rain or snow. This is also crucial after baths, as wet fur accelerates heat loss.


Maintain Regular Exercise: Regular exercise can help maintain your dog’s body temperature, but keep walks short during cold weather.


Stay Alert: Keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia and take immediate action if noticed.


Preventing hypothermia is the best way to manage it. Following these tips will ensure your furry friend stays safe and warm during the cold months.


Common Questions about Hypothermia in Dogs


Can dogs develop hypothermia?

Yes, dogs can develop hypothermia if their body temperature falls below the normal range. Factors such as cold weather, damp conditions, and extended exposure to chilly temperatures can all lead to hypothermia in dogs. Small breeds that have short coats or are very young or elderly are especially susceptible.


How long does it take for a dog to develop hypothermia?

The onset of hypothermia in dogs depends on various factors, including the dog’s size, age, health condition, and the temperature of the surroundings. In harsh, cold conditions, hypothermia can develop in just a few minutes, while in milder cold, it could take hours.


Can dogs recover from hypothermia?

Yes, with immediate and appropriate treatment, dogs can recover from hypothermia. This includes gradually warming the dog, wrapping them in warm blankets, or seeking professional veterinary care in severe cases. Prompt action is crucial if you suspect hypothermia. If your dog shows signs of hypothermia, consult your vet for guidance.


Are certain dog breeds more prone to hypothermia?

Yes, certain breeds are more susceptible to hypothermia. Typically, these are small dogs or breeds with short or thin coats, like Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, and Dachshunds. Elderly dogs, puppies, and dogs with pre-existing health conditions are also at a higher risk.


Can a dog develop hypothermia after a bath?

Yes, a dog can potentially develop hypothermia after a bath if the water was too cold or if a wet dog is left in a cold environment. To prevent this, always use warm (not hot) water for bathing your dog and dry them thoroughly right after the bath. Never leave a damp dog in a chilly area. Ensure bathing is always a safe and comfortable experience for your pet.


Stay Vigilant to Hypothermia in Dogs

In conclusion, canine hypothermia is a significant concern during the winter months, and it’s up to us as pet parents to make sure our dogs are safe and warm. Recognising the signs of hypothermia early, knowing how to respond, and taking preventive steps are all part of responsible pet ownership.


Just because it’s cold outside, it doesn’t mean that your dog can’t enjoy winter. With the right precautions and care, your pup can still have plenty of fun, from frolicking in the snow to cosying up by the fire. Remember, a well-cared-for dog is a happy dog.


At WonderVet, we’re here to help every step of the way. If you’re worried about your dog this winter, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can provide advice tailored to your pet’s needs and circumstances, ensuring they stay safe, warm, and healthy throughout the colder months. It’s all part of our commitment to providing the best possible care for your furry friends. Stay warm, stay safe, and enjoy the winter wonder with your loyal companions!


For more pet care tips and advice, follow our blog and join our WonderVet community. Together, we can ensure that our beloved pets thrive no matter what the season brings.