Do Labradors Get Cold?

Do Labradors Get Cold, yellow lab in snow

In short, yes, Labradors get cold when temperatures fall. In this article our veterinarian explains more.

As responsible pet owners, it is our job to care for our pets and make sure they are comfortable and not too cold. This responsibility falls upon us to provide the proper care they need.

In return for our love and nurture, Labrador Retrievers warm our hearts with their love, loyalty, and companionship.

Do Labradors Get Cold?

Like most dog breeds, Labrador Retrievers can survive cold climates, but despite their thick coats, these dogs can get cold just like humans if exposed to cold conditions for too long. Veterinarians recommend bringing your dog in when temperatures get below 20°F.

Our furry friends display signals that let us know when temperatures have reached their bodies limitations. But it is up to us to know these signs so we can bring them back to warmth before our Labradors feel any discomfort or pain. We can even take preventive measures with dog accessories for wintertime!

Signs Your Dog Is Too Cold

Do Labradors Get Cold, chocolate lab in snow

Man’s best friend may not be able to blatantly tell us they are cold, but their body language and behavior sure can give it away. If you notice any of the signs listed below, you should bring your Labrador back inside and warm them up.

  • Reluctance to walk or move
  • Lifting their paws from the ground constantly
  • Excessive whining or barking
  • Limping
  • Shivering and shaking
  • Seeking shelter
  • Anxious or discomfort

Labrador Retrievers can thrive in colder regions. If you live in an area where harsh winters are common, this breed will do just fine indulging in normal outdoor activities. Just take caution. If you notice any of these behaviors, that is when you can tell your pet has reached its limit for cold temperatures.

If the region you live in experiences extreme temperatures all year round or even most of the year, it would be wise to know the symptoms and early warning signs of hypothermia in dogs. Studies have shown that hypothermia can occur when exposed to cold air, rain, and wind.

If temperatures are low and the conditions for hypothermia are present, this can occur indoors as well as outdoors. Our dogs lose body heat easily inside our homes on cold days, especially if they spend their time laying on cold flooring.

Signs of Hypothermia

In addition to the signs you can look for, there are extra preventative measures you can take to keep your pup from getting so cold it turns into a medical condition. The signs of hypothermia include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Stiff muscles
  • Lack of attention
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Stiff muscles

In some cases, hypothermia can get severe to the point medical treatment is needed. Hopefully, you and your pup can avoid temperatures that extreme, but being informed on what the signs look like can save a lot of pain and trouble before it starts!

Veterinarians suggest that when temperatures reach 20°F or below, that is when cold is too cold for these dogs. If your dog is primarily an outdoor family pet, it is highly recommended that you bring them indoors when temperatures reach that marker.

There are many ways to a chill from advancing into something worse. It is as simple as drying off and warming up your Labrador when coming in from outdoors. Even if indoor temperatures are low and your dog seems to be chilled, there are solutions to warm them up.

Steps to Keep Your Labrador Warm

Do Labradors Get Cold, black lab in snow

Since Labradors get cold, actions you can add to your daily routine can make a positive impact on the animal’s overall wellbeing. Whether it be an extra step before going outdoors, returning indoors, or just making smart decisions when the climate is cool.

These precautionary steps include:

  1. Making sure your Labrador Retriever is completely dry prior to going outdoors.
  2. Cleaning them of snow and water before they return inside.
  3. Always staying with your Labrador outside
  4. Avoiding stripping their undercoat during winter
  5. If you will be outside with your labrador for a long period consider getting a dog coat.

Making sure they are dry before entering the cold outdoors is logical. Think about it; if you walk out with your hair wet when it is cold, you instantly feel the chill of the cold. Same goes for your furry companion. If they are wet and walk outside into cold conditions, the chances of them becoming cold is greater. This could also increase the risk of hypothermia.

Toweling off any snow or ice particles on their paws or legs can help them dry faster and essentially help them warm up quicker. Not to mention it will keep your house tidy. This will also prevent the dog from ingesting any chemicals or salt that they could have picked up along the way on their paws.

Stay with your dog while they are outside so you can watch for any signals that they are cold.

If possible don’t overgroom and strip the undercoat out too much if you plan to do outdoor activities in the winter.

Winter Apparel and Accessories for Dogs

Our dogs depend on us to keep them warm in the winter and colder months. Below is a list of a few items that do just that.

Depending on how cold it is in your region, one or more of these items can greatly increase your pets safety and comfort in the cold.

Warm Sweaters and Jackets

Dog Jacket

Kurgo Dog Jacket

In most cases, the sweaters and jackets are for the older Labrador Retrievers, who are more sensitive to colder temperatures. However, the younger pups could benefit from this as well in those frigid temperatures. Be sure to measure your dog and consult the size chart before ordering.

As Labrador Retrievers age, their immune systems weaken, and their fur thins. So, these winter jackets can benefit their health during the winter or for dogs that live in colder regions.

Common fabrics for dog jackets include nylon and fleece. You will want to be cautious that when using these jackets, it is for the purpose of keeping them warm during the cold and not risk overheating your dog.

Dog Booties

Dog Booties

QUMY Dog Boots

What a brilliant product! Dog boots are available for all shapes and sizes. They are durable and keep your dog’s paws warm. Better yet, they are waterproof, enhancing the ability to keep your dog’s paws dry during those winter walks. If you are planning to take your dog out in wet snow these are great for preventing the snowballs that build up between their pads.

There are many products and brands available to choose from. They have easy and adjustable straps that are convenient for placing on the paws of dogs. Labradors are known for pleasing their owner. So, with ease, these boots should be no hassle to get on. They may take a few days to get used to them but after a week or so of daily use they will forget they are there.

The bottoms of the boots are durable and anti-slip, providing traction and protection from the cold and rugged terrains. Some urban search and rescue dogs wear boots like these to protect their paws from sharp disaster debris.

Outdoor Dog House

Dog House

Outdoor Dog House

If your Labrador spends most of their time outdoors then a dog house is absolutely essential for cooler weather. This house keeps your labrador out of the wind and can be insulated for further warmth.

Add the heater dog bed below and this house could extend the outdoor season for your Lab.

Or if you have more than one dog and your Labradors get cold, they can cuddle in this dog house or a slightly larger one to keep warm.

Outdoor Heated Bed

Pet Bed

Outdoor Heated Pet Bed

Your Labrador may love sitting or sleeping outside in the cold seasons, but the ground can amplify that cold temperature. Let your dog enjoy the outdoor weather without the cold ground lowering their temperature.

A heated dog bed, or pad, can keep your Labrador’s temperature at a safe level while letting them watch nature in the winter months.

If your dogs is primarily an outdoor dog, and the temperature are on the borderline, this bed in their dog house can keep them comfortable in slightly cooler weather than a standard bed.

Another addition that could come in handy is a heated dog dish. Keeping your dog’s water at drinkable conditions is key to keeping them hydrated in the cold.

Conclusion

A few other factors to consider, when asking if Labradors get cold:

  • Puppies and Older Labrador Retrievers are more sensitive to cold
  • DO NOT leave your dog in the car (in hot or cold weather, cars get hot and cold very fast)
  • Ensure they have a warm place to rest away from the wind and off the ground

Be wise when caring for your Labrador Retriever because, after all, they are your fur baby that needs nurtured. The dogs age can influence how much cold they can tolerate. Puppies and older dogs tend to be more sensitive to colder temperatures. Training puppies in the winter is not the easiest due to this sensitivity.

Just like you wouldn’t leave your dear pet in a car in scorching hot summer temps, do not leave them in the cold either. A closed environment, such as a car, can amplify the outside temperatures. This can be dangerous and potentially lead to death.

Keep a warm area for your Labrador to rest, whether it be a cozy bed or a warm blanket. This will comfort them and keep them warm. Put their bed or blanket in an area that is free of any cold drafts that may be blowing.

Go the extra mile and accessorize your Labrador with puppy apparel when all else fails to keep them warm!

If you are going to have your Labrador outside, be sure to check out our article on Microchipping Your Labrador Retriever to learn how to keep from loosing your best friend.

Dr. Anne Traas

Anne Traas, DVM, MS, DACT is a veterinarian and the President of Labrador Retriever Society. She is a specialist in canine reproduction. In her day job, she is a leader in a small biotech where she and a team of vets and scientists are working to develop new medications for pets.

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