Few places are as beautiful in winter as New Hampshire. For some residents, it’s the season they wait all year for. There are no shortage of winter activities to be enjoyed, and those brave enough to venture out into the cold and snow are always rewarded with all the scenic trails and gorgeous vistas this wonderful state has to offer. But, while people can bundle up and enjoy the winter despite the weather, our dogs aren’t as fortunate.
Some dogs are built for cold weather and others have trouble with low temperatures. But even for dog breeds like Huskies, who do well in the snow and cold, some winter temperatures can still be too much to handle.
It’s important to avoid going for walks in extremely low temperatures and to always pay attention to your dog’s body language while you’re out. If your dog is exhibiting any of the below behaviors, turn around and go back inside.
Here are the top three signs your dog is too cold:
Holding Paws Up, Out of the Snow
The pads of dog’s feet are thick and tough and they do a great job of protecting dogs from sharp walking surfaces like asphalt or gravel. But when it comes to low temperatures they can be very sensitive.
If you’re walking your dog in the cold for any length of time and they start to hold their paws up, away from the ground, you should take immediate action. This is a major indicator that they are too cold.
Dog’s paws can get so cold that they hurt, something that can be confusing for a dog. Dogs often don’t know how to ask for what they need. But when they try to hold one paw at a time off the ground, to give themselves some minor relief from the ice and snow, they’re also letting you know they need help.
If you see your dog doing this you should pick them up and carry them to shelter.
Dogs are pretty tough, so when they are acknowledging that they are uncomfortable there’s usually a good reason. It’s important to pay attention to your dog when you’re walking, and if they are showing signs of discomfort, make sure you recognize them and take action.
Most people don’t realize this but dogs shiver when they get really cold. If you are ever on a winter walk with your dog and they begin to shiver, you need to wrap your dog in your winter coat and head home fast. Reading your dog’s body language is a crucial way to keep them safe in sub-zero temperatures.
By the time your dog is shivering they are already uncomfortably cold and if they are exposed to the elements for much longer things could become dangerous.
Dogs can get hypothermia and frostbite just like people. So it’s important to avoid going outside in extremely low temperatures. If you are outdoors in the freezing cold it’s important to monitor your dog and make sure they are maintaining a proper body temperature and not exhibiting any behaviors that indicate they are too cold.
If They Stop Walking, Or Try to Turn Back
Another important sign to pay attention to is your dog’s willingness to keep walking. Some dogs love the snow and the cold doesn’t bother them. So what might be too cold for one dog might be fine for another.
A good way to measure whether or not your dog needs to be warmed up is by assessing their willingness to continue. If your dog is leading the way, tail wagging and playing in the snow, they’re probably fine. But if your dog is suddenly walking very slowly, licking their paws, or trying to turn around completely, you need to recognize the signs and take them back home.
Dogs can say a lot without saying anything at all, so it’s important to listen to their body language and respond appropriately.
Many people walk their dogs when they have time, and that usually means after work. But in the winter the sun goes down so early that going for a walk after work usually means going for a walk in the dark. Once the sun goes down in winter the temperatures can drop significantly and even though the daytime temperature was safe, the evening temperature might not be.
The best way to protect your dog from the extreme cold is to avoid walking them at night or on days with weather advisories. A dog walker can walk your dog during the day when the sun is out and the temperatures are mild.