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Monday, January 5, 2009

When is it too cold for dogs??

Question: When does it get too cold for domestic animals to stay outside all night?
Answer: It depends on the animal. Even a dog with a thick winter coat needs protection from the elements, particularly if the weather is any combination of wet, windy and cold. Protection could mean a dog house, garage, breezeway, or shed, unless you're fortunate enough to share your own home with him.

Question: Don't some dogs like to stay outside? Whenever I let my dog in, she pants to get out right away.
Answer: The panting you see from your outside dog when she's in the house is often a sign of stress, not overheating. The dog is uneasy in the house because it's not “normal” for her to be inside. If it's below freezing outside, and certainly if the temps are in the single digits, she's better off inside, whether she seems to like it or not.

Question: But my dogs will curl up together outside and look as cozy as can be. They don't look cold! They keep each other warm, right?
Answer: They're trying to share body heat in order to survive the night, just as you would if you were trapped outdoors with several people. You might make it through the night, but it's not going to be “cozy” or pleasant.

Question: My dog seems just fine when I go out to see him in the morning. Isn't that a sign he's okay sleeping outside in the cold?
Answer: Dogs live “in the moment.” When morning light begins to warm them again, they forget about the suffering of the last few hours. They're not going to complain to you about how cold they were, or how much sleep they lost as a result of the cold. That doesn't mean they're not miserable at night, trying to survive.

Question: Isn't that heavy coat of hair, and that extra layer of fat enough to keep them warm?
Answer: Put on your warmest parka, cap, mittens and boots, and go sleep on your porch when the temperature is -4 degrees. You may survive the night, but it won't be pleasant. Your pets go through the same suffering on an extremely cold night.
Question: Won't my dogs toughen up if I make them sleep outside?
Answer: Go back and sleep on the porch for a few more sub-zero nights and see how you feel about it.
Photo: This is Polly, a neighbor dog I've posted about several times in the past. Polly will soon be off her chain for good, she'll have a bed to lie on, and thawed water to drink. She's going to a Great Pyrenees Rescue in Missoula, and then on to a forever home. Happy Day!!!!

24 comments:

ronzonip said...

Dear editor: These people are asking concerning questions and you are answering with a slight form of attack. I am sure everyone knows how they would feel if it were them out in the cold. The thing is, we are not dogs. Our body chemistry and costitution are different from animals. The questions were relating to the animals and what their limits are when it comes to tempurature. If you are answering these questions I am assuming you are an expert. All I am asking is for you to answer the questions with expertise and not with emotion. I for one would like to know the actual and factual answers. The people asking the questions are asking because they are concerned with the well being of their beloved pets. Please keep that in mind and re-route your answers. This is a request not a demand. Thank you.

ronzonip said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

i have read all the questions and aswers and i feel that the author is almost saying if you do not keep your dogs inside then they will be cold. Like ronzonip said, were not dogs, my lab loves it outside, she jumps in the river when its below freezing and when we get home she had ice sickles on her fur! yea ice sickles, and she sleeps outside. did i make her jump in? No, she wanted to and she likes it! Dogs are decedents of wolves, do wolves know what its like to stay in a fire heated house? no they are warm when its cold outside, they dont have anything to compare it to. If i can remember correctly one the replies were put on your warmest parka, and sleep outside. well what do you do when you come inside? you take it off, well when dogs come in they dont take off there fur! My lab stayed inside one night and would leave the back door, wanted out all night, im no expert but if it were GREAT for them to be inside, and they even liked it, you would think that the dogs would think, being warm in this un normal place is better than suffering outside, and stay inside!

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

Wolves are wild animals and have a body chemistry different from the domestic dog. Their fur thickens when the climate changes to cold. Have you ever seen a Boxer or Doberman with a thickened coat? No! You never will.
We have bred the wildness right out of the domestic dog, therefor, they need extra care and consideration.
Even wolves find caves or holes to sleep in at night!
NIGHT TIME IS THE DEADLIEST TIME! By having your dog tied up outside, do you feel safe?
Do you sleep better at night because he/she is out there watching for intruders?
Then you owe it to your "Alarm system" to keep him comfortable. If he has short hair like the breeds I've mentioned, and YOU are very cold when you go outside, then I can assure you, he/she is cold too.
If you leave them outside all the time, they are used to some degree coldness, but it's not THEIR choice, it's your doing.
Is he curled in a ball when you go outside? They curl up to get the most heat surrounding their bodies (just like Huskies and Malamutes do in the arctic snow). Does he shiver and arch his body when you go outside to check on him?
When (if) he stands to greet you, if he is hunched up, his heart beat has decreased to such a slow state that he cannot move quickly, and blood flow is practically stopped.
Their bodies have to go into survival mode and that's what happens.
If it happens often, their bodies get tired and they die from it. Most dogs tied up outside do not get the best of food, so just like humans, if their immunity is compromised due to constantly fighting to stay alive, they end up getting fatally ill.
I'm sorry if I sound angry.
When it is freezing outside, 32 degrees, the water in their bowl freezes, it's cold.
I have removed, frozen to death carcasses tied to whatever, from more yards than I care to mention. So please, save another Animal cop from getting angry at the sheer stupidity of people and make sure your pet has proper shelter without frozen mudwater in their waterbowl and an untippable bowl of dogfood.
32 degrees for very short haired breeds, is cold, they need an insulated doghouse with a DRY blanket to get as warm as they want to be.
32 degrees for dogs with some fur need proper shelter that is insulated.
If the weather is in the single digits, a kennel in the garage, basement, bathroom, anywhere inside with a blanket to lay on is necessary.
If the weather is below zero, any and all "household pets" need to be inside a warm building.
Bottom line? How much do you love your animals?
Freezing is freezing.
32 degrees and below- Prepare! make sure they have PROPER SHELTER whether they have long thick fur or no fur.
It's your responsability.
May you have many happy years with your pet!

mrwarre85 said...

ok doggie freak. I live in Boulder right now, I get it. some people think dogs are humans.

they aren't.

when its freezing outside your dog needs a good dog house. this is common sense. on super cold nights, bring em in the garage. common sense.

just leave all that "what would you think if you were tied up outside all night" garbage alone. you out yourself immediately as someone who does not live in reality.

Spinundrum said...

@Chris - help ! i would never ever leave my dogs outside longer than using the bathroom. however my situation is different... i work 12 hr shifts far from my house and i bring the dogs with me through the night. they have food, water and blankets/sheets/pillows - the whole back seat is a snuggle bed basically. every 2 1/2 hours i use my 20 minute break to warm the car fully. i live in oregon and we don't ever get extreme hot or cold weather at night throughout the whole year. we have two weeks of "heat wave" and i do leave them home and clean the accidents for 2 weeks. i haven't had any problems yet... this is my first year doing this, when it gets down to the lower 20's in dec/jan - will my dogs be ok still ? what's your opinion ? i have 10 pound toy cockapoos who are never groomed, except once a year for the heat wave... they have tons of hair... when i go out through the night they are snuggled into balls and snoring away. they are never shaking or whining when i go out. if you could email me your thoughts, it would be ever so appreciated. thanks smokeydabandit78@live.com

Sparky said...

I am far from a dog expert. This is why I came to this blog to find answers. I found a lot of talk but very little real information to help me decide what to do. There was one comment that actually gave some specific information, which I consider helpful. However, I am hoping I can get a little more clarification without being made judged on my love for my dog. I live in southern california. Anything below 50 degrees is considered cold. I got my daughter a terrier mix and we recently moved into a rented house where the owner is concerned about pets in the house but did reluctantly agree to it (with a large deposit). As much as possible I keep him in the garage and I got him an insultated doghouse and lined it with a blanket and a pillowed dog bed. Of course the garage is better than outside in the elements but it can still get pretty cold in the garage since it does not have the cental heating like inside the house. So, when it gets below 35/40 degrees I bring him inside for the night. Is this cruel and unusual punishment for the dog. The alternative is that I may have to find another home for him where he can better cared for. My daughter loves her dog so this would not be my preference but I also have to think of the dog. Sparky does not appear to be suffering but I don't want my ignorance to guide my decision. Please help.

Sparky

Sparky said...

I am far from a dog expert. This is why I came to this blog to find answers. I found a lot of talk but very little real information to help me decide what to do. There was one comment that actually gave some specific information, which I consider helpful. However, I am hoping I can get a little more clarification without being made judged on my love for my dog. I live in southern california. Anything below 50 degrees is considered cold. I got my daughter a terrier mix and we recently moved into a rented house where the owner is concerned about pets in the house but did reluctantly agree to it (with a large deposit). As much as possible I keep him in the garage and I got him an insultated doghouse and lined it with a blanket and a pillowed dog bed. Of course the garage is better than outside in the elements but it can still get pretty cold in the garage since it does not have the cental heating like inside the house. So, when it gets below 35/40 degrees I bring him inside for the night. Is this cruel and unusual punishment for the dog. The alternative is that I may have to find another home for him where he can better cared for. My daughter loves her dog so this would not be my preference but I also have to think of the dog. Sparky does not appear to be suffering but I don't want my ignorance to guide my decision. Please help.

Sparky

Sparky said...

I am far from a dog expert. This is why I came to this blog to find answers. I found a lot of talk but very little real information to help me decide what to do. There was one comment that actually gave some specific information, which I consider helpful. However, I am hoping I can get a little more clarification without being made judged on my love for my dog. I live in southern california. Anything below 50 degrees is considered cold. I got my daughter a terrier mix and we recently moved into a rented house where the owner is concerned about pets in the house but did reluctantly agree to it (with a large deposit). As much as possible I keep him in the garage and I got him an insultated doghouse and lined it with a blanket and a pillowed dog bed. Of course the garage is better than outside in the elements but it can still get pretty cold in the garage since it does not have the cental heating like inside the house. So, when it gets below 35/40 degrees I bring him inside for the night. Is this cruel and unusual punishment for the dog. The alternative is that I may have to find another home for him where he can better cared for. My daughter loves her dog so this would not be my preference but I also have to think of the dog. Sparky does not appear to be suffering but I don't want my ignorance to guide my decision. Please help.

Sparky

Megan W. said...

Wow, some of these comments obviously took it really personally that a dog might be more comfortable indoors. Yes, use common sense, but I didn't see the blogger attacking anyone, and she certainly got her share of attacks in return.

No, dogs are not people, but they also do not communicate like people, nor do they always know what's necessarily the best for them. A dog's instincts do not make them geniuses. How many dogs do you know who have gotten into trouble or gotten hurt due to following their instincts? So don't make it out like nature is perfect.

Human beings don't have the same "body chemistry" as dogs, but a dog's skin freezes just like a person's if the conditions are right. Yes, a dog will jump in icy water. A dog, like a person, is warmer when they're active and playing and their heart rate is up. Take a freezing, wet dog and put them out in the snow overnight when they're not romping, and they are in trouble.

So yeah, use common sense, but you have to take into account that not EVERY SINGLE PERSON who owns a dog knows just exactly what conditions the dog can handle. So it's better to have a set of general rules for cold weather than to expect everyone to be the "experts" you all claim to be.

Dunc said...

I agree with ronzonip. I want a real answer instead of a long-winded passive aggressive shame session. I want a number in degrees for small dogs and large dogs when I am googling something like this. I have no idea how cold or not cold the animal is, thats why I was searching. I have a small dog outside in small doghouse that has a heating pad in it that is designed to stay on all the time, in dry 45 degree weather, and I want to know how cold is too cold. I would definitely bring him in at 32 or below but that just doesn't happen here more than once every few years.

Dunc said...

I agree with ronzonip. I want a real answer instead of a long-winded passive aggressive shame session. I want a number in degrees for small dogs and large dogs when I am googling something like this. I have no idea how cold or not cold the animal is, thats why I was searching. I have a small dog outside in small doghouse that has a heating pad in it that is designed to stay on all the time, in dry 45 degree weather, and I want to know how cold is too cold. I would definitely bring him in at 32 or below but that just doesn't happen here more than once every few years.

Chris said...

Since I have failed to receive any knowledgable response from the readers, I have come to the conclusion, after much of my own research, that it basically depends on the dog. If you are NOT talking about a Husky or Malamute here is what I've found out.
Short haired dogs that are thin (tall or short) like chihuahuas, whippets, greyhounds, miniture pincers, great danes,poodles,
etc. etc. need to be indoors when the temp reaches 40 to 45.
To make YOUR decision- take a look at your dog after 40 minutes of being subjected to that temperature-is he/she shaking?
If he/she IS shaking- its too cold for them. You can also feel their fur and feet- if it's really cold to the touch, they are too cold!
If your dog has a thick but short coat and has a little weight to him/her, (pugs, bulldogs, pitbulls, boxers, etc.) it can withstand 40 (with a dense comforter from Goodwill or 4 to 5 flakes of hay) in the doghouse, but if he or she is shaking at that temp, they should be brought inside. Pay attention to how your dog is acting- they can't tell you they are freezing YOU ARE GIVING THEM NO CHOICE!!!
A thick, long furred dog with a little weight on him/her will stay warm in (32 to 25, and some breeds are sub- zero tolerant such as Huskies and Malamutes) but they all have to have a shelter with 4 sides and a roof with an access opening not taller or much wider than the dog.
***Dog houses that are too big for the dog lose heat made by the dog, therefore making it impossible for your dog to stay warm!
The opening should be protected from the wind/rain/snow so they can keep dry and warm. In other words, the flat back side of the doghouse should be the side taking on the direction of the elements. The doghouse needs to be solid and sturdy and the dog should be able to go to the right or left to get away from the opening of the door.*******
If your dog has alot of fur but he/she is skinny, under-fed or sickly, they should be indoors when the temperature reaches 40 degrees. If not- you will have tormented your dog to it's death. You bought the dog- you brought it home, at least have the decency to care about it. I have gotten alot of hate mail from people who really shouldn't have pets because they are uneducated and refuse to accept their responsibilities.
To them- it's OK to leave the animal outside in the snow- no shelter, food or water many days - they are JUST animals after all???
Even wild animals find shelter and they keep their family together to stay warm. Your dogs are alone!!! Wild animals can also get their own food (not cheap pet food) and don't depend on a human for their resources so they are by far, healthier and HAPPIER animals. They're smart to stay away from humans.
This response is directed at the people on this site who really want to know what to do and want to know the truth. To the people who keep their dogs tied to a tree every day of their lives; I hope one day you all realize you didn't deserve friends like those dogs you ignored outside. The dogs that would give their last breath for a kind word and a little attention from you...their people.
None of us really deserve the love of a dog.

MamaTee said...

I was checking for temps because I turn the heat WAY down at night in the house and I wanted to make sure it wasn't too cold inside for my Majestic Tree Hound! I'm pretty sure he'll be fine but I still make sure he has his blanket! My Chinese Crested sleeps with me and he has PJ's on so I know he's warm enough.

MamaTee said...

I would like to ad that not only leaving your dog outside at night often not pleasant for them but it doesn't make your neighbors happy if your dog is a barker like my neighbor's dog!!!

Luann Combs said...

We have a Husky/Aussie, with a coat that is Husky-like, thick, full and fluffy. She won't go into a dog house (insulated and filled with dry comforter blanket). Our Labrador Retriever will sometimes use her dog house. I have talked with alot of people who say that their dogs won't use a dog house. They are always in the house from about 6pm til 9am, and often during the day when we are home. Any suggestions on getting the Husky to use a dog house?

Karen said...

I would like a realistic answer to this too. I know when there is snow on the ground it's too cold but when it's 70-80 degrees outside it's fine. What is the "not fine" point. I know my dogs and I don't share the same body temp by our behaviors. They actually seems to tolerate cold AND hot weather better than I do. I keep my dogs in at night but often let them out during the day when I'm at work. But when should I start keeping them in? They seem to like having the yard to run better than staying in a crate all day. I live in the deep south. We seldom see snow, weather is usually never below 40's during the coldest weeks.

Alexandra Martinez said...

Thank you Chris, you help me understand that is my responsibility has a human to take care of my Dog. Dogs are not human but they are part of the family.

Alexandra Martinez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marlee Aldukhil said...

I have 8 dogs now; accumulated them but I love them all. First I find this blog helpful and confusing. A dog can not speak for itself they give you looks or bark trying to tell you something. A dog will stay outside only because you as a human put him/her there. They prefer to stay inside with their owner or were it is much warmer. So people get a grip. Dogs do not enjoy being outside all night in the cold; yes they like to go outside and waddle in things, those dogs who are put outside and so they think this is where their human will be more happier if they are outside.

Julie Jones said...

Actually, I loved the author's responses. You should spend a night outside. Do you own an Akita? A Husky? A Newf? A Great Pyr? A Bernese? A St. Bernard? They can tolerate a bit more cold. But, why would you get a dog that was not intended to be part of your family? There is no temperature chart for small dogs, medium dogs, large dogs.The only way you know is when you go outside and find your dog frozen or overheated and dead. Many years of working in animal control control and rescue have shown me too many instances of same. Then the owners claimed innocence. Companion animals are NOT wolves. They have evolved through breeding

Chase Adams said...

The author makes it sound like dogs couldn't and wouldn't survive without human intervention.

If we weren't here to supply the heated homes for them to live in then how would they ever survive?

Were dogs merely put on this earth to be house pets?

Lisa West said...

Do all the dogs in the world a favor and NOT get a dog to keep it outside. What is the point??
It is not part of the family at all, you feed it and make sure he has some water, and then what. His life is chained outside with a dog house? Never receive affection, exercise, or to be what they most desire, to be with the "pack" aka, family. All Dogs by the way desire this. It gets dark at 5:30 so what the hell, it outside, in the dark, freezing why you are all in the house warm and together. How the hell anyone person can do that to an animal is beyond me. Totally agree with editor, ALL dogs belong inside with the family. If you cannot do that, do NOT get one. Poor dogs do not get to select there owners. Who the hell would pick an owner when they tell you your life will be stuck outside in all weather, tied up and be ignored. Sounds like a great life!!!