What is a comfortable temperature for a dog?

What is a comfortable temperature for a dog?

Health & Safety

Because dogs have their own fur coats, we often think of them as being very hardy to the cold, and able to comfortably withstand temperatures lower than we humans find appropriate. However, all dogs can and do feel the cold just like we do, and not all dogs are as well protected against the elements as we often think.

There are a range of different factors that dictate how cold or warm any given dog is likely to feel in different environments and ambient temperatures, and knowing how to assess them is the key to ensuring that your own dog stays warm enough, whatever the weather.

In this article we will examine the different factors that dictate how much your dog will feel the cold, and how to establish a comfortable temperature for your dog. Read on to learn more.

Your dog’s body temperature

The regular body temperature of the dog is not the same as that of people – The body temperature range for an average adult human in good health is 36.5-37.5 degrees Celsius, while for dogs it is 38.3-39.2, which is of course rather higher.

This means that dogs need to maintain a slightly higher temperature than us to feel comfortable and thrive – and so what we as humans would consider to be a little too hot if we had the same amount of clothing as your dog has fur would actually be just right for your dog.

However, your dog’s fur itself, as well as other factors, help to dictate how easy or difficult it is for them to maintain their comfortable temperature norms, and this can vary a lot from dog to dog.

What dictates how much your dog feels the cold?

Individual dogs have vastly differing levels of sensitivity to heat and cold, which means that a temperature that is fine for one dog might be too high or too low for another. Additionally, how affected your dog is by temperature changes and how well they are able to maintain their comfortable temperature despite the reading on your thermometer is very variable too.

The factors that go towards dictating how sensitive your dog is to the cold include:

  • The type of coat they have – dogs with fine, single-layered coats like the Staffordshire bull terrier will feel the cold more than a dog with a thick, dense coat with an insulating undercoat, like the Siberian husky.
  • Body fat – dogs that are very lean and delicate like the whippet will be much more susceptible to cold than dogs with a higher ratio of bodyfat like the Golden retriever, and find it harder to stay warm, as well as being more affected by minor temperature fluctuations.
  • The colour of your dog’s coat – dogs with black fur or dark fur absorb heat better than dogs with white or light fur, which means they will feel a little warmer on a cold but bright winter day, but also be more likely to find the full heat of the summer sun a bit much.
  • What your dog is used to – we’re all familiar with the phenomenon of finding 15 degrees Celsius overly chilly in the middle of summer, but viewing it as positively balmy come winter – and dogs as well as humans get acclimatised to temperature norms. A dog that spends a lot of time outside in all weathers will be less likely to feel the cold than a dog that spends most of their time indoors where the temperature is consistent.
  • Age and health – puppies and older dogs are more apt to feel the cold than adult dogs, and dogs that are unwell, malnourished, or not in peak condition will also be more sensitive to cold weather.

External factors that dictate your dog’s temperature

It is not just the temperature that you read on a thermometer that dictates how warm you and your dog will feel either – different external factors can all have an impact on how warm or cool your dog feels.

For instance, a dog that gets wet on a cold day will feel colder than one that stays dry, and if a biting wind is in the air, this will make you and your dog feel colder too.

Additionally, a dog that is sitting still outside will feel cooler than one that is running around and staying active, and whether or not the sun is out has an effect too!

Keeping your dog at a comfortable temperature

Even within the home, how us humans feel about the temperature may not be the same as the dog, for a variety of reasons. First of all, dogs are lower to the ground than us, and as heat rises, the air at your dog’s level will be a touch cooler than the air at our own level.

Your dog is also more likely to feel a draught than we are, again, because they are closer to the ground.

When we go to bed at night, many of us turn the heating off because we’re snug and warm under the duvet – but your dog might be too chilly if their bed isn’t well insulated and doesn’t contain enough bedding, or in very cold weather or rooms, a supplementary means of heating.

Maintaining your dog’s core temperature is the key to keeping them warm in cool weather, and many dogs can benefit from wearing an insulating coat for walkies – and in some cases, waterproof boots too, to help them to stay warm and avoid them losing heat through their feet.

Every dog is different, so take into account the factors we have mentioned and assess your dog’s own situation individually.



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