For a long time, dogs had fur and didn’t get cold. This is only partly true because our four-legged friends have very different fur, which does not protect them equally well from environmental influences. Many breeds, originally come from southern Europe or other warm countries. Of course, they don’t have the thick St. Bernard fur and freeze accordingly faster. Read here why your dog is cold and what you can do about it.
Why do dogs freeze despite fur?
As different as the dog breeds are, so is their coat of hair. In particular, dogs from the southern regions of Europe and the “dwarfs” among the breeds are not equally well equipped for every weather.
A dog’s coat can be single-layered or multi-layered. The length and texture of the hair also determine the protective function of the coat: Long, fine fur with only a thin or no underlayer or undercoat can only keep a dog warm or protect it from moisture to a limited extent. On the other hand, the multi-layered woolly fur, such as that of huskies and other Nordic breeds, is completely different, which repels moisture and is excellent at storing heat.
Southern European racing dogs and hunting dogs such as Whippets or Podencos have short and very fine coats with no undercoat. Since these breeds are also sprinters, they are extremely slim and have little or no fat reserves in the top layer of skin that could protect them from the cold.
There are basically two types of dogs that tend to freeze :
- The dog has no undercoat and/or a fine coat of hair
- and/or the dog does not have a protective layer of fat.
A dog that freezes extremely easily may be malnourished. This can certainly happen if your dog is of a breed that is inherently very slim, so its condition is not immediately apparent. In this case, ask your veterinarian about the optimal weight.
Proper grooming can affect the quality of the coat. If possible, never bathe your dog in winter. This can affect the protective properties of dog hair and skin. He not only freezes faster but is also more susceptible to illnesses such as a dog cold.
Dogs with parasites often have less resistance, possibly dull or brittle fur, and are quickly malnourished. This also means that dogs freeze faster.
When does your dog get cold?
Just like us humans, a dog’s trembling is a sure sign that it’s too cold. However, there is also the possibility that he is stressed and possibly trembling because of it. You know your dog best and you will quickly see what the reason is.
Signs of freezing:
- the dog appears tense and stiff when walking
- a visibly cramped posture
- the dog is reluctant to go outside or does not want to go outside at all
If your dog snuggles up to a protective area – for example, your leg – during a walk in winter, this indicates that he is cold. If your dog has a constant cold, bladder, or kidney infection, you should protect it with a dog coat when going for a walk.
Functional dog clothing
Opponents of dog clothing often argue that the dog has fur and therefore does not need a “fashionable little coat” to protect against the cold. A statement that arose out of ignorance and, to the chagrin of many four-legged friends, is still followed by many owners. But think about the change in temperature your dog has to endure when moving from a room that is up to 25°C to a cold room below 0°C.
Dog jackets, dog sweaters, or winter coats have nothing to do with dog fashion, but provide the four-legged friends with the necessary protection against cold and wetness in winter or in the transitional seasons. Dogs that are allowed to move around a lot and freely during the cold season can regulate their body heat better. A lot of exercise throughout the year also contributes to a strong immune system in your dog.
But as described, not every dog’s fur is protected against cold and wetness. For the thin-skinned dog in winter, dog coats are by no means a “fad phenomenon”.
It is important that the dog coat fits perfectly and does not hinder your four-legged friend in his movement and communication with other dogs.
Dogs find it difficult to compensate for heat loss when:
- their immune system is weakened,
- they are ill (e.g. parasite infestation),
- they are already elderly and frail,
- they suffer from arthrosis, back or other joint problems,
- they are still puppies
- they are freshly shaved and/or bathed, which you should avoid doing in winter,
- they have little undercoats or
- they hardly have any subcutaneous fatty tissue.