When it’s cold, windy, and sometimes even wet, in wintertime, whether you are inside or outside, you can find yourself getting chilled, so you start to wonder about your precious dog? I mean, you’re not a dog, and you have no idea whether he is cold.

You especially get cold after sunset when the warmth of the sun is lost. Can dogs get cold at night, and how would I know if my dog were cold at night? Let’s examine these and other answers.

Can dogs get cold at night?

The answer is — Yes, dogs can get cold at night just like you can, but not every dog starts shivering when it gets a little chilly. Here are a few factors that may determine whether your dog gets cold at night.

What size is he?

Is he a large, medium, or small dog? It only makes sense that smaller dogs can’t hold their body heat as well as can larger dogs. It is going to take a large dog much longer to get hypothermia or frostbite than it is a small dog. 

What type of coat does he have?

Is he short-haired or long-haired? Long-haired dogs fare better in cold weather than do short-haired dogs.

Also, dogs with double coats do quite well in very frigid climates. Dogs with dark-colored coats draw heat from the sun that aids in keeping them warm.

What is his age?

How old is he? It matters because young puppies and elderly dogs are at risk in frigid temperatures. Their delicate bodies just aren’t able to withstand the harsh cold.

Is he in good health?

Does he have any type of health problems? A dog’s body that is weakened by illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease is at risk in frigid temperatures. A sick dog simply can’t handle the severe cold.

How much does he weigh?

Does he have a bit of meat on his bones? His weight can affect how his body reacts to frigid temperatures. A dog that is a little heavier usually fares better in the cold.

What breed is he?

Some dogs are just not made for severely cold weather. Some small breeds, short and long-haired, that can’t withstand frigid temperatures are the Chihuahua, the Miniature Pinscher, the Rat Terrier, and the Yorkshire Terrier. 

There are also large short-haired breeds that don’t fare well in cold weather. Some of these breeds are the Greyhound, the Great Dane, the Weimaraner, and the Whippet.

On the other hand, there are dogs that were bred especially to work out in the cold, and these dogs can actually thrive in surprisingly frigid temperatures. Some of these breeds are the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, the Akita, the Tibetan Terrier, the Tibetan Mastiff, the Saint Bernard, the Newfoundland, and the Chow Chow.

How do I know if my dog is cold at night?

It can be hard to know what your dog is feeling at any given time, but when he is cold, there are actually some obvious signs that will signal this to you.

Here is the #1 sign that you may notice no matter where you are.

He may have an involuntary reaction like shaking or shivering.

Here are some signs he may display inside.

He may sleep in a tight ball with his tail tucked warmly away and his nose hidden from the cold. He may become restless. He may whine, whimper, or bark, and you may see him searching for warm shelter, such as by a fired-up oven. He may present with very cold or dry skin.

Here are some signs he may display outside.

He may lift his paws off the cold ground as if trying to avoid touching it. You may notice him hunching up and tucking his tail; this posture indicates he is uncomfortably cold. He may resist walking and try to turn toward home.

What temperature is too cold for dogs?

Some say start taking precautions when the weather drops below 45°F. Others say that most dogs can withstand temperatures down to 30°F. Just about everyone agrees, though, that once temperatures begin to fall below 20°F, it’s time to bring all dogs into a warm, safe shelter.

There are other factors that must be considered, however, such as those discussed above, as well as wind chill and bad weather, such as sleet, freezing rain, or snow. In other words, it has to do with the temperature, yes, but what is too cold for one dog may not be too cold for the next.

You must judge your dog according to all these factors and also, watch for the signs that he is cold to learn the point at which the cold begins to be too much for him.

Can dogs sleep in the cold?

Dogs can sleep in cool weather, but it all depends on “how cold” the cool is that you are speaking of because if it’s too cold, and if it’s cold and the weather is wet, sleeping in the cold can cause your dog to become ill.

Actually, it’s not exactly sleeping in the cold or wet weather that makes your dog sick. The problem is that doing this can weaken your dog’s immune system so that it has trouble fighting off the enemies of his physical well-being.

What types of health conditions can plague your dog if he sleeps in frigid weather? These are some of the health conditions that can plague your dog if he sleeps out in the cold.

Hypothermia

In freezing temperatures, hypothermia is a very present risk for dogs. The definition of hypothermia is simply that a dog loses body heat at a rate that’s faster than that at which the body can replace it.

Your dog’s temperature should hover somewhere close to 102°F. When his temperature falls below 95°F, it’s time to take action, because hypothermia is probably setting in.

Hypothermia can attack the central nervous system and affect blood flow, heart rate, respiration, and immunity. It can cause health conditions like irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, shock, unconsciousness, and even coma.

Signs of hypothermia include shivering, weakness, lethargy, muscle stiffness, slowed and shallow breathing, noticeably slowed mentality (stupor, stumbling, lack of coordination), fixed and dilated pupils, pale or gray gums, and low heart rate.

Frostbite

When your dog gets too cold, his body sends his blood to his vital organs leaving his extremities, his nose, ears, paws, and tail, short. If you ever see these parts turning bright red, you should immediately get the dog to warmth, as this means he is at serious risk of frostbite.

If you don’t, the tissues in his extremities will soon begin to freeze, and permanent damage to these tissues will occur. Next, they will turn hard and pale, and your dog is in trouble. Not only are the nose, ears, paws, and tail at risk, but the legs are also susceptible to frostbite.

Signs of frostbite include skin discoloration in the extremities, skin feeling brittle and icy to the touch, ice forming on the skin, areas that are painfully sensitive to touch, blisters, and skin ulcers.

Cold

With a weakened immune system, it would be easy for your dog to catch a cold at night. Just like in humans, this is a mild condition that makes your dog feel rotten.

Sneezing a lot is one symptom of a cold in your dog. While it may be an allergy, if it is unusual for your dog to do so, it may be the dreaded cold. If your dog has a cold, his nasal passages will be stopped up, so he will inhale through his mouth.

Due to bacteria, when a dog has a cold, you may notice a thick green or white discharge from the eyes and nose. If your dog has all these symptoms, there is also a possibility that he may have the flu.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be caused by the flu. It is an inflammation of the lower respiratory tract or lungs. Dogs that are not in good health due to immune system disease, those who are on immunosuppressive medicines, those with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, those with severe metabolic disorders such as kidney failure, and those who have Cushing’s or Addison’s diseases are at a higher risk of bacterial pneumonia.

Signs of bacterial pneumonia are high fever, shortness of breath, lethargy, dehydration, wears out easily, cough, and weight loss.

To determine whether your dog has pneumonia, your vet may do blood tests, urine tests, x-rays, or something similar to a biopsy.

Is my dog cold at night outside?

Is he an inside dog or an outside dog? Some dogs can even get cold at night when they are inside, so it only stands to reason that they can get cold outside at night. Also, dogs are just different, and some are simply more sensitive to the cold than others.

The rule of thumb that all the experts say to live by is that if it is too cold for you, then it is too cold for your dog. So, if you wouldn’t sleep out in the cold on a certain night, then don’t leave your dog outside to sleep in it.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.