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Do Dogs Feel Cold On Their Paws?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dogs have natural adaptations in their paw pads to keep them warm in cold weather.
  • A dog's tolerance to cold weather depends on their breed and thickness of their coat.
  • Signs that a dog's paws are too cold include cracked paw pads, shivering, and limping.
  • To protect a dog's paws from the cold, regularly trim and clean them, take shorter walks, moisturize them, use boots, check the temperature, and pay attention to their walking behavior.
  • Exposing a dog to snow at a young age and gradually increasing their exposure to the cold can help them adjust.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Friday 29 July 2022
Last updated on
Friday 26 May 2023
Do Dogs Feel Cold On Their Paws?
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Dogs are not only loyal and playful creatures, but they also enjoy exploring the great outdoors. As dog owners, we may wonder if their paws get cold when they frolic in the snow or mud. The truth is, dogs have a natural adaptation that helps keep their paws warm in cold weather.

Their paw pads contain specialized tissue and blood vessels that help regulate their body temperature and prevent their paws from getting too cold or too hot. So, rest assured that your furry friend’s paws are well-equipped to handle any weather conditions!

Can Dogs Feel Cold In Their Feet?

The answer is both yes and no. Dogs can handle some cold weather, but too much can be dangerous. A study revealed that dogs have a heat maintenance system in their feet, thanks to the veins and arteries that function as a heater.

Veterinarian Zay Satchu explains that a dog’s tolerance to cold depends on its breed. Dogs like the Alaskan Malamute, Great Pyrenees, and Saint Bernard, which have thick coats, are built for winter. On the other hand, dogs with thin coats like Greyhounds and Xoloitzcuintli are more susceptible to the cold, according to veterinarian Jennifer Coates.

In addition, Dr. Hiroyoshi Ninomiya from Tokyo tested whether a dog’s paws could withstand the -35 ͦ Celsius temperature claimed by a 1972 study. He found that some breeds can adapt to the cold, but not all of them.

Signs That Your Dog Feels Cold On Their Paws

Yes, dogs can feel the cold in their paws when they walk on snow. However, it’s essential to know when it’s too cold for them. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Cracked paw pads
  • Blisters on the paws
  • Shivering
  • Limping or favoring one paw
  • Whining
  • Tucking the tail between the legs
  • Drooping the ears

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to bring your dog indoors or provide them with protective boots to keep their paws warm and safe. Remember, dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia, just like humans, so it’s crucial to take care of them during cold weather.

How Will You Protect Your Dog’s Paws From the Cold?

Regardless of breed, a dog’s paws can get cold in winter. But, if you want to prevent that, follow these 7 tips listed below on how to protect your dog’s paws in the cold.

Regular Trimming

Dr. Jeff Werber, a celebrity veterinarian, said that dogs’ paws get cold since ice gets stuck in there. Hence, dogs lick it off which causes serious infections.

Also, Courtney Campuzano, owner of Groom & Board, explained that trimming allows owners to easily wipe off debris on a dog’s paw.

Regular Cleaning

Dogs’ paws can handle the snow but that doesn’t mean you won’t do regular cleanings after a cold walk. According to Marty Becker, DVM, dogs’ fur soak in ice and salt and, thus need cleaning to avoid infections.

As dog owners, be sure to remove all post-walk residues.

Practice Short Walks

Walking is a good exercise for dogs. But during winter, dogs’ paws get cold too so a long walk is a rain check. Meanwhile, Katie Lytle a DVM, said that if it’s too cold for a regular dog walk then it’s better to take short walks instead.

Moisturize Dog Paws

Dr. Lytle said that rubbing balms on your fur baby’s paw can lessen the discomforts of cracks and tears. Also, Denise Herman, the founder of Empire of the Dog also supported that claim. Hence, according to her, wax helps cover and protect dogs’ paws from certain irritants.

Wear Boots

Like humans, dogs are sensitive creatures as well. They need foot coverings too. Yet, cold streets are not the only reason why dogs wear boots.  

Chris Zink, a canine sports medicine authority also stated that boots serve as protection for dogs’ paws against toxic deicer salts in snow.

Check the Temperature

Dogs’ paws may feel cold and get frostbites or hypothermia in conditions below 0°C, says Dr. Cathy Barnette. Moreover, Dr. Coates supported that statement. According to her, in freezing temperatures below 32°F or 0°C, small dog breeds with thin fur should be monitored and not let out.

Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Walking Behavior

Dr. Kelly Ryan, director of Animal Medical Center stated that it’s easy to see whether dogs’ feet get cold in the snow. According to him, dogs that shake and shiver in the snow are signs that they want to seek some warmth nearby.

How to Train Your Dog to Handle the Cold?

When it comes to training dogs to enjoy cold weather, Dr. Henry Pasternak suggests that exposing them to snow when they’re young is a good idea. This means that they should have the opportunity to explore snow at least once in a while.

According to licensed veterinarian RuthAnn Lobos, starting with short walks is the best way to introduce dogs to the cold. She also advises gradually increasing their exposure to the cold so that they can adjust to it over time.

Dr. Chris Roth, a veterinarian, also suggests rewarding dogs with treats when they go pee or poop in the snow. This can help them associate the cold with positive experiences.

Overall, it’s important to introduce dogs to the cold slowly and carefully and to reward them for good behavior. With time and patience, they can learn to enjoy the winter weather just as much as we do.

Do Dog Paws Feel The Cold: FAQ

Here are the answers to the frequently asked questions about dog paws getting cold. 

How cold is too cold for dogs’ paws?

The cold weather affects each canine differently. Well, we still need to be cautious. Dogs’ feet get cold so they’re only allowed for 15 to 20 minutes at below-freezing temperatures. Anything below 0° causes serious hypothermia said Sara Ochoa, DVM at Doglab.

Can dogs walk in snow barefoot?

Yes, they can but only for a few minutes. Dogs have special heating pads on their feet but that doesn’t mean they can hang around the snow the whole day. A dog’s paws can get cold too so it’s best to shorten cold walks.

Can a dog’s paws get frostbite?

Unfortunately, yes. Even with special heating foot pads, dogs’ paws feel cold and can sometimes turn black, and blue. Jerry Klein, DVM, stated that all dog breeds, big or small have the risks of frostbite and hypothermia when exposed to snow for longer periods.

To what degree should you not walk your dog?

If humans could shake and shiver against the cold breeze of winter then dogs’ paws feel cold as well. Michelle Henry, a dog enthusiast stated that any temperatures below 0° C can cause lethal hypothermia and may even lead to death.

How do I know if my dog’s paws are cold?

Most people still find it hard to believe that a dog’s paws feel cold. Ryan Rucker, DVM and Veterinary Advisor to Zesty Paws, stated that the usual sign of a cold paw is if they feel cold to your touch. 

Dogs’ paws get cold as well as humans who get cold feet during icy weather. Snow is mixed with toxic anti-freeze salts. It’s not safe for our canine friends to play with. Thus, we should make sure our dogs wear booties and balms and have clean-ups for their paws’ healthcare.

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