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How cold is too cold for your dog?

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — As a wave of Arctic storms threatens to break low-temperature records in parts of the U.S., spreading cold and snow from coast to coast, staying warm is probably top of mind for many.

But when it comes to your furry friends, how cold is too cold?

The answer depends on multiple factors, including your dog’s needs, age, health, and breed.

Smaller dogs are more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite in cold weather, according to Marshfield Animal Hospital. They lose body heat faster than larger dogs.

Healthy arctic breeds and other medium-to-large dogs can often withstand harsher temperatures, thanks in part to their double coats, the American Kennel Club explains. These breeds, like huskies or Bernese mountain dogs, can stay outdoors longer in temperatures below 32°F, usually for 30 minutes to an hour.

Like humans, dogs that are younger, older, or experiencing a health condition shouldn’t be out in the cold very long – or not at all, if possible – Dr. Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ, tells the AKC.

When it comes to the weather, things like wind chill and precipitation can also impact how your dog feels outdoors.

Generally speaking, if temperatures are at or above 45°F, most dogs should be OK outside. When temperatures drop below 40°F, cold-averse dogs may become uncomfortable, Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, writes on PetMD. As temperatures drop below 32°F, older dogs, smaller dogs, and dogs with thin coats shouldn’t spend extended periods of time outside.

If temperatures are below 20°F near you, Dr. Coates warns dogs can develop hypothermia or frostbite. You should bring outdoor dogs inside during these bitter cold stretches, and keep bathroom breaks short.

Hastings Veterinary Clinic says there are a number of signs to watch for to know when your dog is getting too cold. That includes their limbs becoming very cold, breathing becoming rapid, increased urination, fur standing on end, shivering, disorientation, pale gums, and lethargy.

The clinic recommends taking your dog to a veterinarian or animal hospital if they stop shivering but are still very cold; they are lethargic and disoriented; their rapid breathing slows and becomes shallow; their ears, nose, paws and tail appear pale; and if their internal body temperature drops below 98˚F.

A dog’s normal body temperature is from 101 -102.5˚F.

Just like us, every dog is unique and may have different reactions to cold weather. While some may not mind the chilly air, others may find it uncomfortable or even distressing.

As a loving pet owner, it’s important to pay attention to your furry friend’s needs and behavior and take appropriate measures to keep them warm and comfortable during colder months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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