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- Can Dogs Feel Hot and Cold?
Can Dogs Feel Hot and Cold?
As the seasons change, you might start to wonder about your dog and how they adapt to temperature. Some dog owners even go so far as to buy their furry friends sweaters to stay warm or kiddie pools to cool off, but can a dog really feel hot or cold?
Research says they absolutely can, which means it’s important to keep that in mind when considering if your dog is too hot, too cold, or just right!
Signs That Your Dog is Hot or Cold
A few signs you may notice when your dog is hot include panting and weakness. Since dogs have fur and they don’t sweat like humans, they pant to cool down. Sometimes dogs also pant when they are excited. So, it’s not always something to worry about. If your dog is panting excessively, you might have a problem, though. If the panting is paired with getting weak, they might be overheating.
On the other end of the spectrum, dogs do have fur and fat that help insulate their bodies, but they can still get too cold. One sign your dog may be too cold is if they start shaking. Think about it, if you get too cold, you sometimes get the chills, and dogs can experience the same thing. It’s important to remember, that some dog breeds are prone to shaking, even when they are not too cold. So, keep that in mind as you evaluate your furry friend.
Another sign a dog might show if they are too cold is whining. If you put your dog outside, and the temperature is freezing, they may start whining and crying at the door to be let in.So, don't leave them outside for too long!
Other signs of a dog being uncomfortable with the temperature include them seeking shelter to get out of the sun or cold, not wanting to put their paws on the pavement, and in extreme cases, a dog can have a seizure or become unconscious. So, it’s very important to make sure your dog’s body temperature stays normal.
History of Dogs Feeling Hot or Cold
Dogs have been able to sense hot and cold as long as they've been around. That's probably why dogs (wild and domestic) have layers of fur and protective fat to regulate their body temperature. Regardless of their fur, dogs have seemingly been interested in sitting around the fire with humans for as long as we can remember. So, it’s pretty safe to say they have felt temperature changes for thousands of years.
One dog owner talked about how her West Highland Terrier doesn’t seem to love the cold. He picks up his paws and holds them up when they are taking walks if it's too cold, and he loves to curl up next to the warm fireplace on chilly evenings. So, dogs being able to sense temperature and do something about it is still seen today as it was thousands of years ago.
Science Behind Dogs Feeling Hot or Cold
Scientifically speaking, as mentioned before, most dogs do have fur coats and body fat that help insulate them from hot or cold temperatures. However, even dogs with very thick fur, such as Huskies, can get used to being in warm temperatures either inside or outside your home.
Then, when winter rolls around, they may not handle the cold as well as they had when they were in a slightly cooler environment. It’s important to keep this in mind as you think about your dog’s living accommodations and how to keep them safe and comfortable.
Helping Your Dog Stay Comfortable in the Hot or Cold
As far as training goes, there isn’t a way to train your dog to be hot or cold. That has to do with their age, breed, physiology, and environment. That being said, some dogs are more equipped to handle temperature swings. However, there are a few things you can do to help keep your dog cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
In the summer, it’s important to make sure your dog has plenty of clean water - whether they are inside or outside. Another thing some dog owners swear by is getting a wading pool for their dog to use during the summer to cool off. Many dogs love water, and this is a welcome sight in the summer.
Be sure to also be mindful of how hot pavement is on dogs’ paws in the summer. The skin on their paws is sensitive and can be burned. Lastly, above all, don’t leave your dog locked in a hot car. They can have a heat stroke or even die.
In the winter, if your dog is an inside dog, don’t leave them outside for long periods of time. If your dog is an outside dog, make sure your dog has a warm shelter so they can stay out of the elements. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge, though, and if it starts getting too cold, it might be good to have your furry friend stay in a warmer location like a garage or mudroom.
Some dog owners even buy their dogs little sweaters or boots to protect them from the elements. This isn’t necessary for every dog, and some dogs may not like wearing clothes. So, keep that in mind as you make arrangements.
Above all, yes, dogs can feel hot and cold, and it’s important to be sensitive to that. Make wise decisions when it comes to keeping your furry companion comfortable and safe, no matter the season.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 03/30/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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