How Cold is Too Cold for a Dog to Sleep Outside?

How Cold is Too Cold for a Dog to Sleep Outside?- Most of the time, your dogs can withstand temperatures up to 45°F and might start feeling cold from that point. Few dogs that are old or have health conditions will avoid cold weather.

Absolutely! Here’s a detailed description of the dangers of cold weather for dogs, how to determine if it’s too cold for them to sleep outside, and ways to keep them safe:

Why Cold Weather Is Dangerous

  • Frostbite: Extreme cold constricts blood flow, especially to extremities like ears, tails, and paws. This can lead to tissue damage and, in severe cases, amputation.
  • Hypothermia: When a dog’s body temperature drops too low, heart rate and breathing slow, and organs could fail. This is a life-threatening condition.
  • Common Cold: Just like humans, dogs can catch colds from exposure, leading to uncomfortable symptoms.

When Is It Too Cold for Dogs to Sleep Outside?

This depends on several factors, but here are general guidelines:

  • 45°F or Above: Most dogs are likely okay, but observe their behavior.
  • 32°F – 45°F: Smaller breeds, puppies, seniors, and those with health conditions are at risk.
  • Below 32°F: Unsafe for most dogs.
  • Below 20°F: Hypothermia risk for all dogs, regardless of size or breed.

Factors Affecting Cold Tolerance

  • Breed: Huskies fare better than Chihuahuas due to thick coats and adaptation.
  • Coat Type & Color: Dense, double coats offer more insulation, and darker colors absorb some sun warmth.
  • Size: Smaller dogs lose heat faster.
  • Age & Health: Young, old, or ill dogs are less able to regulate their body temperature.
  • Weight: Body fat provides some insulation, but being overweight is also unhealthy.
  • Acclimation: Dogs used to colder climates may have thicker coats and better tolerance.

Signs Your Dog is Too Cold

  • Shivering
  • Whining or anxious behavior
  • Slowing down or seeking warmth
  • Holding paws up

Keeping Your Dog Warm Outdoors

If your dog MUST sleep outside, take these precautions:

  • Winter Gear: Dog coats, sweaters, and protective booties for icy ground.
  • Check Temperature: A dog’s normal temperature is 101-102.5°F. Hypothermia sets in below 95°F.
  • Cozy Shelter: A well-insulated, raised dog house with bedding off the cold ground. Block wind and moisture.

Key Takeaways

  • Cold weather poses serious health risks to dogs, especially when sleeping outside.
  • Temperature is just one factor; breed, health, and coat type matter significantly.
  • Pay close attention to your dog’s signals. If they seem uncomfortable, bring them inside.
  • If your dog must sleep outside, provide adequate protection and monitor them closely.

Generally, it’s safest and kindest to keep dogs indoors during cold weather.

The Perils of Letting Your Dog Sleep Outside During Winters

Letting your dog sleep outside during winters may lead to health issues. You have to know when to get your pet inside, as keeping it outdoors for a long period in winters is not recommended for certain breeds.


Exposure to extreme cold conditions will give your dog frostbite. It occurs when the blood vessels in the body contract, leading to less blood flow and oxygen in the body. If you keep your dog in cold temperatures for longer, the crucial organs are kept warm by the dog’s body.

Organs like the heart are important for the dog’s survival, and in extreme weather, the body pumps more blood into the heart and less to other parts like the paws, tail, ears, and nose. Hence frostbite happens in those body parts like the paws, tail, ears, and nose.

The body part goes extremely pale and white and may turn darker leading to tissue death which may require amputation.

The frostbitten tissue will be amputated if it cannot be saved. Amputation can lead to infections and may also influence normal functioning.


If the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees F, your dog’s risk of developing hypothermia is higher. In this condition, your dog’s body may be losing heat faster than it can produce due to more exposure to excessively cold temperatures.

The dog’s body temperature can drop below 95°F, and it is at more risk if exposed to snow, or the body is wet.

More exposure causes body temperature to drop, and sometimes the body is unable to perform simple functions. It becomes hard for the dog to breathe, resulting in heart rate falling.

Few other symptoms like weakness, cold body, pale gums and eyelids, and dilated pupils are all signs of hypothermia. Keep the dog warm before taking it to the vet.

Common Cold

It is common for a dog to catch a cold if left outside in cold temperatures due to various bacteria and viruses. Dogs with a cold would have similar symptoms to humans – a runny nose, cough, or watery eyes.

You can visit the vet or home remedies like taking steam works for your pets. Make your dog drink lots of fluids along with healthy food rich in Vitamin C. The viruses that cause cold in humans and dogs are different and hence cannot transmit between both.

How Cold is Too Cold to Walk a Dog?

A cold dog will show signs of being cold and show behaviors like shivering, whining, or walking slowly. If they start to search for a warm place to lie down, it shows the temperature is too cold to withstand.

The size of your dog and its coat thickness will decide if you can take your pet for a walk in the winter when it is too cold.

Small dogs may not be able to withstand cold temperatures. Breeds with thick fur will be able to take the cold temperatures.

But this does not hold for thinner dogs. You also need to consider your pet’s health and age while taking it out to walk in the cold.

You can walk your walk for a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes in the temperatures that fall below freezing point.

Hence, it’s crucial to understand how much winter temperatures affects the temperature readings. It might be more unpleasant if it is snowing, particularly if it is really heavy snowfall.

With any form of dampness, core body temperature will drop significantly quicker. In those kinds of situations, you should cut your walking time in half.

How Cold is Too Cold for a Dog to Sleep Outside?

Many people live in apartments and choose to have pets instead of kids. Companion pets have not become more common, and the majority of people prefer to keep their pets indoors. Dogs may feel cold even if they have denser coats.

Pets will be safe at around 12 to 15 degrees temperature. Working dogs will be able to fare better in cold weather than the dogs who live indoors. Animals are also affected by weather and temperatures like humans.

Dogs often get an adrenaline rush when they are outdoors during winters. If your pet starts shivering, it is cold, and once its coat is soaked, it cannot maintain its body heat.

Most dogs can tolerate temperatures below 40°F. If the temperature is more than 45°F, your pet might require some shelter to escape the cold weather. Dogs can take in cold weather better than humans due to their coat, weight, and breed. However, no dogs will be able to tolerate below-freezing temperatures.

Certain health conditions related to heart, kidney, and diabetes can make dogs intolerant to cold weather along with a few external factors like rain and snow. If the temperature drops below 30°F, your dog cannot be kept outside.

Factors Affecting How Dogs Respond to the Cold Weather

Every dog is different and how they react to the cold weather is different. Several factors affect the way your pet might respond to the outside climate when it is very cold.

Coat Type

Dogs covered with thick layered coats can tolerate cold better than the ones with thinner coats. Breeds like Siberian Huskies and Malamutes found in Northern climates have the capacity to withstand cold temperatures.

However, dogs with thin coats like Greyhounds suffer the most in cold weather. Breeds that live in northern climates have the physical and behavioral attributes to withstand Arctic temperatures.

Coat Color

On a clear sunny day, your dark-colored dog can tolerate the cold much better as its brown fur absorbs heat from the sunlight and keeps it warmer than the light-colored dogs. Even though the color does not make much difference, the sunny day lets the dog with dark skin be more comfortable.


Small breed dogs lose heat in cold weather as their small size makes them lose more heat than the larger dogs. So, the dog’s size decides how well it can tolerate the cold weather.

Adapting to the Climate

Sometimes dogs who have been staying in particular climates have well adapted themselves to that weather. Hence dogs who have been staying in places with freezing temperatures can withstand the cold weather better than those used to warm weather.

Health and Age

A young puppy, an elderly dog, or a sick one may not be able to control their body temperature compared to the healthy ones. They would need more protection in the cold weather than the others.


Body fat being a good insulator, thin dogs get cold quicker than fat ones. However, overweight dogs are also not good, so owners must take care of that issue.

Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm While Sleeping Outside

If you have your dog sleeping outside, there are several precautions to be taken. If it gets too cold, your dog should be able to withstand the temperature.

Winter Gear

If your pet is sleeping outside, keep your dog comfortable by making it wear winter clothes. You can buy winter dog coats as per the climate, dog boots to protect the paws from frostbite, and dog booties to protect your dog’s feet from chemicals.

Check Temperature

The normal temperature of a dog is 101 to 102.5 F, and when exposed to a cold climate, it starts to fall. If it goes below 95 F, your dog might start experiencing hypothermia. The temperature of your pet will make you realize how cold it is too cold for your dog to sleep outside.

Prepare a Cozy Shelter.

Build sturdy and durable kennels for your dog. It should be made with windproof materials and protect the rainwater from coming in. You can add cushions and blankets to keep your pet warm and cozy.

Dogs require exercise and mental stimulation to keep healthy and active. As dogs are individuals, the outdoor temperature may not be the same for all.

Some dogs can tolerate hot weather, whereas few cannot tolerate cold weather more than others. A young, plump, and long-haired dog will fare in cold weather better than an old, thin, and short-haired pooch.

Hence, as a pet owner, you have to make sure that you provide your dog with a comfortable and healthy shelter outside by gaining much knowledge on how cold it is too cold for a dog to sleep outside.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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