Generally, Texans don't have to worry too much about plunging temperatures during the winter, but this recent cold front has some North Texans bringing their pups inside for fear of things like frostbite and hypothermia. The question is, how cold is too cold for dogs and cats during the winter?
The answer to this question typically depends on a handful of factors:
- What type of breed is your dog or cat? Some animal breeds are more comfortable in cold weather than others. If you're not sure what climate your pet is best suited for, do some research online to find out how cold is too cold for their particular coat and body type.
- How old is your pet? Elderly, fragile pets are often more susceptible to cold-based illnesses and should be kept warm during the winters. Plus, old animals with conditions such as arthritis may experience more discomfort during cold weather.
- What kind of weather are you dealing with? Snow, hail, sleet? Although low temperatures alone can be dangerous, wet weather can pose more serious threats and prevent some breeds from acclimating to the cold.
The American Veterinary Medical Association advises people to assume that cats and dogs are as susceptible to cold-based illnesses as we are. Therefore, if it's dangerously cold outside for you and your family, then it's too cold for pets to be left outside, too. Temperatures above 55 degrees shouldn't be a problem, but 40 degrees and under (especially for small or medium-size dogs) could be risky. When cold fronts bring temperatures like 25 degrees, it's smart to keep dogs and cats inside for the majority of the time, just to play it safe.
If you do let your pet outside during freezing temperatures, keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia. These can include shivering, anxious behaviors, lethargy, and/or whining. You should also check their paws for signs of injury, like cracked paw pads or bleeding, after especially cold walks.
To learn more about how different sizes of pets are endangered by the cold, check out this link from the Tufts Animal Condition and Care.
We also want to remind you that stray animals suffer when temperatures drop, and many local animal organizations are doing their best to provide warm housing for animals without safe homes. Now is the time to support organizations like The SPCA of Texas and Operation Kindness as they care for thousands of helpless animals during the holiday season.
*Article sourced from Dallas News