Do Dogs Get Cold At Night? [This Is What You Need To Know]

Is the winter coming in and you’ve noticed the temperature is dropping quickly? Perhaps you live in a cold place regardless of the season, or your house seems to be particularly chilly at this precise moment in time. Either way, you’re likely concerned about your dog keeping warm, right? What’s too cold for dogs and would they rather be in the warm, even? Well, you’ll be pleased you stopped by. I am going to be addressing these very questions here today.  

So, do dogs get cold at night? Dogs can get cold at night and be at risk of adverse health issues if the temperature drops below 30 degrees F (-1 degree C). Generally speaking, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog.

Sounds straightforward, right?

But as you can imagine, there is certainly a lot more to it than that.

Including identifying if your dog is cold, the best ways to keep a dog warm, and so on.

So let us continue to explore the coldness of the night and what this all means for your dog!

Do Dogs Get Cold Sleeping?

Dogs can get cold sleeping if they are left in a draft or the temperature drops. They can quickly become cold if left to sleep outside or in an environment not being provided with warmth (such as a car). Colder environments will accelerate symptoms of hypothermia.

Many animals, including dogs, will curl up into a ball when sleeping.

By curling up in this way, your dog is instinctively trying to retain his body heat.

Dogs (or cats) with bushy tails will curl them around their heads for the same reason: they want to keep their ears and nose warm.

Some dogs tolerate the cold and other weather changes more easily than others.

Dog Breeds Who Better Tolerate The Cold

Some breeds like Siberian Huskies have a double-layered coat that allows them to stay warmer in colder conditions.

Dog breeds who tolerate the cold well include:

  • Siberian Huskies
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Great Pyrenees
  • German Shepherds
  • Newfoundlands
  • Keeshonds
  • Shiba Inus
  • Saint Bernards
  • Norwegian Elkhounds
  • Komondors

Dog Breeds Who Do Not Tolerate The Cold As Well

Many popular dog breeds don’t tolerate the cold well at all. These dogs will get colder when sleeping faster than most and include:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Shih Tzus
  • Great Danes
  • Bulldogs
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Boxers
  • Boston Terriers
  • Havanese
  • Pugs

Note: The above lists are not exhaustive, so if you are unsure how well your dog tolerates the cold, check with your vet or do your research into your specific breed.

Do Dogs Like To Be Warm At Night?

Dogs do prefer to be warm at night. Again, there is an optimal temperature here and they will not want to be too hot either.

When it’s cold at night, we usually enjoy wrapping up warm in a blanket, and dogs crave warmth at night too.

Here are some of the ways in which they will seek to do so:

  • Warm snuggles with you in your bed. You can share body heat and comfort: about half of all pet owners make this choice, so it can’t be bad!
  • Warm blankets, especially if they smell like you. You can make a donut shape out of the blankets for your dog to have a warm nest to sleep in
  • A heated dog bed
  • A dog bed with bolstered sides. A dog bed with bolstered sides can help keep your dog warm as it acts as an extra way for him to retain his body heat
  • A raised dog bed. The space beneath a raised bed raised provides another layer of warmth

If you aren’t sure if your dog is comfortable enough, there are some ways to tell:

  • He sleeps for his normal 8 to 12 hours a day
  • He enjoys his meals and has a good appetite
  • He wants to play and spend time with you
  • He moves about freely when awake (rather than staying curled up even when he isn’t sleeping)

How Warm Do Dogs Need To Be At Night?

As a general rule of thumb, most dogs should be kept in temperatures of between and 75 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit (23-25 Celsius). This is where they will likely be most comfortable.

However, the amount of warmth dogs need at night depends on their breed, their age, and their overall health conditions.

There are essential signs you’ll need to spot that will tell you if your dog isn’t warm enough at night (or at other times of day).

Dog breeds who don’t tolerate the cold well (see above) will need to be kept in warmer temperatures at night than other breeds with thicker coats.

Age Of Your Dog

Puppies and senior dogs won’t be able to regulate their body temperature as well as young adult dogs.

These dogs will need a sweater or a coat to feel comfortable in cold weather, both at night and during the day.

Your Dog’s Overall Health

Some health conditions can mean your dog may need extra warmth at night. Some of these health conditions include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease

Here are some guidelines for all adult dogs:

  • Smaller dogs do best at temperatures that don’t go below 45 degrees F (7 degrees C). Take sensible precautions when the temperature gets below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C).
  • Medium-sized dogs do best at temperatures not lower than 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). Take precautions if it’s colder than 45 degrees F (7 degrees C).
  • Large dogs do best at temperatures that aren’t below 45 degrees F (7 degrees C). Precautions are needed if it gets to below 40 degrees F (4 degrees C).

You’ll find a more detailed chart for optimum temperatures for dogs below.

Fahrenheit/CelsiusSmall DogMedium DogLarge Dog
95/35°555
90/32°555
85/29°445
80/24°334
75/23°333
70/21°223
65/18°112
60/16°111
55/13°111
50/10°211
45/7°221
40/4°332
35/2°333
30/-1°443
25/-4°543
20/-7°544
15/544
10/-12°555
5/-15°555
0/-18°555

Key:

  • 5 – Life-threatening,
  • 4 – High risk,
  • 3 – Potentially dangerous,
  • 2 – Low risk
  • – Little/to no risk

Once again, these are general guidelines that don’t take into account other factors such as your dog’s age, breed, and health (see above).

But notice the inverse relationship. Smaller dogs fair better in hotter temperatures (where larger dogs don’t) whereas smaller dogs fair worse in colder temperatures (where larger dogs do better).

Signs Your Dog Isn’t Warm Enough at Night

If dogs aren’t kept warm enough at night, they can develop health issues such as hypothermia (a drop in body temperature) or frostbite.

Signs of frostbite include:

  • Pale, cold skin that is often painful to the touch
  • Blackened skin
  • Blisters, redness, or swelling of exposed skin

Note: The most common parts of a dog that can get frostbite are his extremities (tail, ears, legs, and paws). The larger your dog’s ears, the more susceptible they are to frostbite.

Signs of hypothermia include:

  • Trouble walking
  • Prolonged shivering (this is an attempt to heat up his body through the effort that shivering requires of the muscles)
  • Overall weakness (e.g., reluctance to move or to stand)
  • Pale gums (paler than usual)
  • Confusion
  • Trying to get close to you to snuggle up while seeming to be distressed
  • Breathing more slowly than normal
  • Muscle stiffness (this often occurs right before a dog collapses)
  • Loss of consciousness (in the advanced stages)

If you suspect frostbite or hypothermia, seek warmth for your dog, wrap him in a coat or blanket, and get him to the vet immediately.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Cold At Night?

The easiest way to identify whether your dog is cold is to observe their body language and behavior.

Although your dog can’t tell you when he’s cold, there are some signs to look for that will tell you it’s time to turn on the radiators or provide some warmth.

Here are some signs that your dog is too cold, whether at night or at any other time of day:

  • His posture is hunched, with his tail tucked underneath him (this is in an effort to warm up)
  • He is shivering, shaking, or trembling
  • He starts barking or whining, and you can’t spot another reason why (such as another animal nearby)
  • He is reluctant to walk, or he keeps turning around
  • He begins to look for places that can act as a shelter
  • He starts appearing to be uncomfortable, anxious, or restless
  • He lifts his paws off the ground as if it’s too cold to touch the earth

How To Keep Your Dog At The Right Temperature At Night

There are many ways to keep your dog at the right temperature at night, both indoors and outside.

Keeping Your Dog Warm Indoors

If your dog is indoors, you can provide:

  • Heated bedding. Just be sure that any electrical cords are out of reach.
  • A dog bed with built-in heating. This is a good option as long as your dog isn’t a ‘bed chewer’.
  • A nesting dog bed. These beds aren’t heated, but they help your dog keep warm because of their den-like shape. If your dog likes to burrow underneath bed covers, he may like this kind of bed. Some dogs don’t like them because they feel claustrophobic, though, so consider your dog’s habits before choosing a new bed.
  • Heated mats. If your dog chews his bed, try a heated mat underneath. Some mats heat up to 104 degrees F (40 degrees C), which is more than enough to keep a dog toasty warm at night.
  • A nest of blankets. This can work for any dog, as long as he likes blankets. If you see your dog dragging the blankets around the house, you may want to opt for another solution. If you do use blankets, wash them regularly to prevent the buildup of dander which could lead to allergies. There are fleece blankets available for dogs that many owners feel have good results.
  • Try dog pajamas. Yes, this is a thing! And some dogs love them. Others won’t wear them, though, so if your dog doesn’t like dressing up, you may need to choose a different solution.
  • Prevent drafts. Dogs can easily catch a chill if they’re exposed to drafts, and we can easily overlook drafts that aren’t at floor level. Get down on your dog’s level to test for drafts: you may wish to invest in draft excluders.
  • Try indoor grass patches. If your dog doesn’t want to go outside to pee when it’s cold, you can keep him warm with an indoor patch of fake grass that has a tray underneath for collecting urine.
  • Offer a heated water bowl. If your dog’s water is too cold, it can make him ill. Drinking nearly frozen water can cause his temperature to drop dangerously low.
  • Let your dog sleep with you. If you decide to implement this solution, just know that your dog is unlikely to want to leave your bed when the weather warms up. So be prepared for a long-term bed partner!

Keeping Your Dog Warm At Night Outside

If your dog is a working dog and spends most of his time outdoors, you’ll want to take steps to keep him warm, even if he’s a big dog with a heavy fur coat.

Try any of the following:

  • Building him a warm doghouse (you can get heated ones if you wish)
  • Leaving him plenty of food (keeping his calorie levels up will help him keep warm)
  • Put a lightbulb inside a protected wire cover and place it in the doghouse
  • Put shiny thermal blankets on the outside of the doghouse
  • If your dog sleeps in a garage, use a heat lamp (but don’t put it close to where he sleeps. Let him go towards it when he needs to, he’ll know how close to get)
  • Have a pile of straw for your dog to burrow into

If you need to walk your dog at night, take sensible precautions such as:

  • Using dog booties to protect his sensitive paws
  • Fitting your dog with a canine jacket or sweater
  • Avoiding areas with ice or snow on the ground, especially if the temperature is freezing.

Note: Even if your dog tolerates cold weather well, check his paws for any signs of damage, such as bleeding or cracks.

Make sure your dog has constant access to water to stay hydrated.

Some dogs get dry noses in the winter cold, so try a pet-friendly nose balm to keep their nose hydrated.

Read more: How To Keep A Dog Warm At Night [Best 5 Strategies To Try]

Finally

Dogs can certainly get cold at night.

Especially if you live in a cold place (be that location, the season or if your house is susceptible to getting cold).

That being said not all dogs will respond in the same way to the same temperature. Nor be able to handle or tolerate it the same way either.

So, be sure to keep your house sufficiently warm with the recommendations presented here today.

Keep a close eye on your dog and look for any signs that they are not fairing particularly well.

Particularly if they have a short coat, are naturally lean, young, or are of ill-health

But generally, remember this; if it’s too cold for you it is likely too cold for your dog.

Related Questions

Do dogs need a blanket at night?

Some dogs may need a blanket at night, depending on the temperature and the dog in question. The colder the temperature and the more uncomfortable their sleeping arrangements, the higher the chances they need a blanket.

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