Have you ever wanted to get your German Shepherd outdoors in the cold but was worried if you are causing them to become harmed or not?
To understand whether putting your German Shepherd in the cold will cause them harm, it is important to first understand, Do German Shepherds feel the cold?
Yes, German Shepherds do feel the cold; however, they can be very tolerant of the cold to a certain degree and for specific periods of time.
This is the main reason that you have to keep a watch over your German Shepherd. To know more about what to do when your German Shepherd is outdoors in the cold, read on.
Does a German Shepherd’s coat help them in the cold?
A German’s Shepherd coat is made up of an undercoat and an outer coat.
During cold seasons and winter, their undercoat grows thick and insulates them against cold weather keeping them warm.
However, they can’t live for a very long period in extreme freezing temperatures.
Do German Shepherds love the cold especially snow?
German Shepherds do love the winter season. There are many reasons that your German Shepherd love the snow:
1.) German Shepherds are investigative by nature
German Shepherds love to investigate their environment and snow causes your German Shepherd to experience it as a new experience.
2.) They love to play
German Shepherds love to play, wrestle, or dig in the snow. They feel happy.
3.) Stay cool
A German Shepherd is designed for more insulation from the cold than cooling down in the heat.
This is mainly because your German Shepherd has a higher body temperature and takes more time to cool down.
How cold is too cold for a German Shepherd?
There are many factors that depend on your German Shepherd tolerance to the cold. These factors depend on their health condition and diet.
If your German Shepherd health condition is great, they will be more likely to be able to tolerate the cold.
The type of healthy food that you give your German Shepherd will also help them stay warm in the cold.
On average, a healthy German Shepherd will easily tolerate temperature above 0 or -5. If the temperature begins to fall below less than -5, your German Shepherd is more likely to feel the cold.
Sometimes, a German Shepherd may feel the cold at a temperature of 0, if you find them feeling cold, then put a coat on them.
What are the signs that your German Shepherd is cold?
- Trembling or shivering: Shivering and trembling is how a dog’s body act to try to increase internal body temperature and keep warm.
- Sleeping: If your German Shepherd sleeps more than usual, it can be a sign that they are cold. It can be a symptom of a condition, hypothermia.
- Lethargy: Being cold can cause your dog’s muscles to become tired or weak. It will definitely cause slow body movements.
- Curling up: If your dog is curling themselves up, they are attempting to warm themselves up.
- Cold ears or body: You can know if your German Shepherd is cold through touching their ears and their body to know whether they are cold or not. Also, you can run your finger over their coat especially in the belly area to see if they are cold too.
- Seeking shelter: When your dog is feeling cold, they will try to find an area where they can hide in to conserve energy.
- Whining or whimpering: Your dog will let you know that they are cold and uncomfortable through whining, whimpering, or barking.
- Dry skin: This is another sign that your dog is cold. Dry skin, particularly around the nose, signals that your dog is cold.
- Restlessness: Some dogs remain motionless when they are cold. While others would become restless when cold and keep moving around to warm their bodies.
What happens if you leave your German Shepherd for a long time in the cold?
Even though German Shepherds can tolerate the cold like some other dog breeds, they shouldn’t be left in the cold for a long period of time.
If they are left for long periods of time, they will experience either hypothermia or frostbite.
Hypothermia in dogs happens when your dog’s body temperature is lowered extremely because of prolonged periods of being in the cold.
When body temperature drops, heart rate and breathing begin to slow down.
It also leads to other problems such as neurological problems, heart problems, kidney failure, and may lead to death.
Symptoms of hypothermia in dogs
- Strong shivering and trembling followed by no shivering
- Being lethargic, weak, or sleepy
- Dilated pupils
- Decreased heart rate
- Trouble walking or breathing
- Body temperature is below 95 degrees
Treatment of Hypothermia in dogs
1.) Remove your dog from the cold by putting them in a warm room.
2.) Dry your dog very thoroughly either with towels or a hairdryer set on low.
3.) Wrap your dog with a blanket.
4.) Wrap warm hot water bottles in a towel and place in your dog abdomen.
5.) Allow your German Shepherd to drink warm fluids.
6.) Check your dog’s body temperature. If it is below 95 degrees, they could be at risk of hypothermia. You should take them to the vet immediately.
Prevention of hypothermia
Hypothermia can be prevented by not letting your German Shepherd stay out for a very long time in the cold.
If your German Shepherd stays for a long period of time in the cold, they will have frostbite.
Frostbite causes your dog’s body to constrict the blood vessels close to the skin as a way to keep their body warm.
In extreme coldness, it can lead to reduced blood flow and damage to frozen tissues.
The most affected body parts in dogs are ears, nose, tail, and nipples.
Symptoms of frostbite
- Skin ulcers or blisters
- Black or dead skin
- Red and inflamed skin
- Pain when touched
If tissues are severely damaged, symptoms may include:
- Pus forming
- Bad smell
- Extreme bacterial infection
Treatment of frostbite in dogs
When treating move your German Shepherd to a dry space. You can then wrap your dog with dry and warm blankets or towels.
You can also place hot water bottles wrapped in towels near your dog’s body to warm them.
Then take your dog to the vet immediately where they will treat them.
What are important tips to take care of German Shepherds in the cold?
1.) Keep your German Shepherd on a leash
During heavy snowfall, take your German Shepherd on a leash when taking them out for a walk especially if they are puppies.
Snowdrifts are very dangerous. They can hide dangerous things such as hunting traps, fallen branches, pits, and many other dangerous things.
If you have a German Shepherd who walks off-leash easily and can listen to you, you could lead your dog into specific safe roads and keep an eye on where your dog is heading.
2.) Groom your dog regularly
Keep your German Shepherd’s coat brushed and cleaned especially during the winter. They rely too much on their coat to stay warm.
Sometimes, a daily or weekly brushing of your dog’s coat will definitely keep your dog coat in top condition.
3.) Put on a dog jacket on your German Shepherd
If you are going to put your German Shepherd for a long period of time, give them a jacket to help keep them warm.
This is especially necessary for young and senior German Shepherd dogs.
You could also give your German Shepherd dog shoes if they get injured in their paws from salt and other chemicals used to treat the streets.
4.) Regular checkups
You have to look over your German Shepherd when they come outside paying attention to their paws and belly.
Because some places chemically treat their streets with salt, it will stick to their paws. The best thing to do is to wipe your dog’s paw with a towel and wipe them.
You have to also take your dog to the vet for a regular check-up. Some dogs may have health conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia and may worsen in the cold.
5.) Provide plenty of blankets
Keep many blankets for your German Shepherd during the winter. You have to put them in your German Shepherd’s kennel so they will stay warm.
It is important to have a certain type of material that warmer and cozy than the blankets in the summer.
1.) What dog breeds can live in cold conditions?
There are many dog breeds that can live in extreme conditions.
Some of these dog breeds are the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, New Foundland, and Norwegian Elkhound.
Their thick and strong coat makes them suitable to live in these conditions.
2.) Can a German Shepherd live all days indoors?
No, a German Shepherd shouldn’t live all days indoor because they are a very active dog.
They require exercise and being outdoors at times so they don’t become depressed or bored even in cold weather.
A German Shepherd does feel the cold like all other dogs.
Even though they can tolerate the cold because of the coats, they can withstand the cold at certain degrees and for not a long period of time.
They can suffer from life-threatening conditions if they stay for too long and at unbearable cold temperatures.
So, it is important to let your German Shepherd stay in cold temperatures but not to let them for long periods of time and at really cold temperatures.
To know more about the reasons for your German Shepherd’s restlessness, check Why is My German Shepherd Restless at Night and Should You Help Stop It?