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Do Dogs Get Cold At Night? 5 Vital Answers (Updated 2023)

Do Dogs Get Cold At Night

Most of us find it hard to sleep at night when it’s too cold.

So you’ll turn on the heater or tuck under the covers.

And the problem’s solved.

But what about dogs?

Do they also get cold and need a blankie?

Continue reading to learn:

  • If dogs get cold at night or not.
  • The ideal ambient temperature for canines.
  • 11 clear signs that your dog’s already freezing.
  • 5 factors that affect a canine’s sensitivity level to cold.
  • And so much more…

Do dogs get cold at night?

Some dogs easily get cold at night, especially during winter. But other canines who have a higher tolerance to harsh weather may not. It’s because every dog has different sensitivity levels when it comes to cold. And factors affecting this are age, size, weight, health status, and coat thickness. 

How do I know when my dog is cold at night?

#1: Shivering

The most obvious sign that your dog’s cold at night is when they’re trembling.

Like ours, a canine’s body also does this involuntarily. And it’s a ‘defense mechanism’ when exposed to a chilly environment.

“Why’s that?”

A study says that our muscles tighten and relax fast when we shiver.

Then these contractions produce heat. And it helps warm our bodies.

Pretty neat, right?

Trivia: By trembling, research shows that our bodies make 4 to 5 times more heat than usual. Many muscles contract during this. So it raises our metabolism or the conversion of food to energy or heat.

#2: Cold skin or wet fur

In normal conditions, our dogs’ bodies feel warmer than ours. Especially their bellies.

So if your doggo’s not retaining body heat well, they may have wet or matted fur. And this may result in cold skin.

To check this, simply touch your Fido’s chest and back to see if they’re warm enough or not.

Interesting fact: Did you know why a dog’s tummy feels warmer than the rest of their body? It’s because it has less or no fur. So it’s nature’s way of keeping a Fido’s belly insulated from cold.

#3: ‘Dog loaf’ position

Next, you might wonder…

“How do dogs sleep when they feel cold?”

Like cats, a freezing Fido will rest in a ‘loaf’ position.

It’s when they curl up into a ball to retain more heat in their body.

Dogs will fold their front paws underneath their chest. And it’ll create a shape similar to a loaf of bread. 

Hence the name.

Then canines will tuck their tails too and huddle up in a corner.

#4: Hunched back

Apart from curling up, a chilly dog will also hunch their back.

So, in short, they’ll have a cramped posture.

Note: If your Fido often arches their back, it may not be due to cold weather. There are other possible reasons for it, such as stomach pain and spinal injury. And it’s best to monitor your dog closely and go to the vet asap.

Reading tip: 7 Reasons Why Dogs Arch Their Backs + What To Do About It

#5: Looking for warmer spots

Where does your pooch usually sleep at night?

If they’re cold, they might also move from time to time.


Since your Fido’s uncomfortable, they’ll search for a warmer area in the house. Then they’ll doze off near a heat source. 

Say a heater…or even you.

Yup. For a freezing pooch, nothing’s better than the heat of another body. Or snuggling with their human under the blanket.

But if a dog’s hot, they’ll prefer to sleep on a cold tile floor.

Also, they may snooze by the door or under a window where a cool breeze comes in.

So if your doggo who doesn’t usually like sleeping with you suddenly jumped on your bed. And tucked themselves under the sheets

Then that might be the sign for you to raise the temperature in the house or turn on the heater.

Check out also: Why does my dog sleep so close to me?

#6: You also feel chilly

Okay. I might be stating the obvious here.

But some people may also forget that other Fidos are more sensitive to cold than us. Like small puppies or dogs with thin coats.

So if you feel cold in the current temperature of your room…

Then your Fido’s already freezing.

#7: Less energetic

Your Dog Is Cold At Night When He Acts Less Energetic

Does your pooch usually go crazy at night?

I ask because some dogs get ‘zoomies’ or sudden bursts of energy before bed.

“Why’s that?”

They still haven’t used the pent-up energy in their body throughout the day. So Fidos will play and run around to tire themselves out.

Thus, if your dog, who was once lively at night, is freezing at the moment…

They might suddenly become lethargic and stay mostly in a corner.

Warning: If your Fido’s extremely drowsy all of a sudden, it may also be a sign of hypothermia. They’re not only cold, but they have a low body temperature. And this needs immediate medical attention.

#8: Slow movements

In addition to being less active, a dog who feels cold may also walk slower than usual.

When you’re chilly, you also find it hard to move your muscles, right? Especially your fingers.

“What’s the reason for it?”

When it’s cold, our blood vessels narrow. And this reduces the oxygen level in our bodies.

As a result, our muscles have less ‘fuel’ to help with the contraction. So experts say that we would feel stiffness.

#9: Restlessness

Like us, dogs can’t also sleep well when they’re uncomfortable.

So instead of being sluggish, your Fido may pace a lot instead. Or run around for no apparent reason.

Well, in this case, these aren’t ‘zoomies’ anymore. And it’s because your dog seems to be freaking out at the same time.

You might also want to know: 15 Easy Tips To Calm A Restless Dog At Night (How-To)

#10: Holding up their paws

Dogs’ paws are the parts that are mostly in contact with the ground as they stand or walk.

Plus, these are extra sensitive too.

So if the room temperature’s too cold, your flooring will be freezing too. (I’m talking about the uncarpeted areas here.)

Thus, your Fido may start limping. Or they might hold one of their paws up as they walk.

#11: Whining

Last, you’ll also know when your dog’s cold at night if they suddenly act out.

“What do you mean?”

Our furry pals talk to us by making different vocalizations. And these are paired with body language too.

Experts say that dogs usually whine when stressed or seeking attention.

So if your Fido whimpers, it’s clear that something’s bothering them.

And in this case, it might be that the indoor temperature is too cold for them.

Learn more: 13 Odd Reasons Why Dogs Whine At Night + 5 Tips To Stop It 

Do dogs need a blanket at night?

Some dogs need a blanket while they sleep at night, especially during winter. These are young puppies and sick, old, or small canines. Meanwhile, healthy large dog breeds with thick fur may do well without it.

But still, this depends on the following factors below:

#1: Length and thickness of fur

First, dogs with long hair and double-layered coats can tolerate cold well.

Some examples of these canines are:

  • Leonbergers.
  • Chow Chows.
  • Siberian Huskies.
  • Alaskan Malamutes.
  • Newfoundland dogs.
  • Bernese Mountain dogs.

On the other hand…

Fidos with extremely thin coats get cold faster

Fur is a dog’s insulation against a chilly environment. So breeds with thinner coats will be more affected by the cold weather.

These are:

  • Pugs.
  • Whippets.
  • Dalmatians.
  • Greyhounds.
  • Chihuahuas.
  • Great Danes.
  • Boston Terriers.

#2: Age

Next, young puppies and old Fidos also get cold quicker than middle-aged dogs.

“But why?”

When young, puppies don’t have enough fur to cover their bodies.

That’s why keeping them warm is important as they can quickly freeze to death in only a few minutes.

“What about older dogs?”

As canines grow old, they won’t be able to regulate their body temperature well as before.

Also, like humans, older dogs may suffer from joint problems (e.g., arthritis). And cold weather worsens these conditions.

You might also like: 9 Real Reasons Why Dogs Shiver After A Bath + 5 Easy Tips

#3: Size

Compared to larger breeds, smaller dogs are more sensitive to cold.

It’s because the latter lose body heat quicker. So little Fidos don’t have much left to regulate their temperature.

The best example of this is Chihuahuas.

AKC says these dogs originated from the tropical country of Mexico. 

So this explains why Chis don’t do well in the cold in the first place.

Also, besides their tiny size, short-haired Chihuahuas have thinner coats too. And that’s why they may shiver a lot.

You might also want to read: 101 Fun Chihuahua Facts That You Need To Know (#6 = Weird) 

#4: Weight

Since body fat is an excellent insulator, heavier Fidos also do well in the cold.

Meanwhile, dogs with thinner body frames don’t have enough fat. So they tend to get chilly fast.

Note: This doesn’t mean you have to fatten up your pooch for them to survive the cold. Being overweight has more cons than pros. So keep your Fido in their ideal weight based on their:

  • Age.
  • Breed.
  • Gender.

#5: Health status

Is your pooch in good condition?

If so, they may do better in the cold than unhealthy dogs.

The harsh weather alone can make puppies or short-haired Fidos suffer greatly. So what more if they have an existing condition?

#BONUS: Level of acclimation

Lastly, some dogs might also be used to a cold climate.

So even if they don’t have thick coats like Huskies, they may tolerate it better than those who have.

What temperature is too cold for dogs?

Temperatures below 32° F (0° C) are too cold for dogs. These can be unsafe, especially for puppies, small breeds with thin fur, old Fidos, and unwell dogs. While temperatures under 20° F (-6 C) may lead to hypothermia and frostbite.

“What’s hypothermia?”

According to vets, it’s a condition where a dog’s body temperature drops under the normal level. And it’s caused by long exposure to a cold environment.

On average, a Fido’s body temperature falls between 100.5 to 102.5°F (38 to 39.2°C). 

Thus, anything below this, like 98 to 99˚F (37°C), is too low and dangerous.

What’s the ideal ambient temperature for dogs?

Experts say most Fidos do well in temperatures above 45° F (7.2° C). 

So some dogs may have discomfort if it falls below this for over 4 hours straight.

Meanwhile, frostbite‘s a condition where the skin gets damaged due to harsh weather.

And in dogs, it affects these parts the most:

  • Tail.
  • Ears.
  • Paws.

Do dogs get cold at night with the fan on?

Some dogs might not get cold at night with the fan on. These are long-haired or double-coated Fidos that easily get hot and overheat. But canines who are hypersensitive to cold weather may become uncomfortable with it.

The latter refers to:

  • Sick dogs.
  • Senior Fidos.
  • Newborn puppies.
  • Small dogs with short, thin fur.

So to make your dog comfortable, ensure that the fan’s:

  • At the lowest power.
  • Not blowing on your dog.

Note: Your Fido must also be able to move around. So they can stay away from the fan when they get too cold.