If you keep your Labrador in your yard, and the cold winter is about to come, you might wonder do Labs like cold weather. Or is cold weather harmful to them?
The Labrador Retriever is a dog breed that can withstand quite long temperatures. It loves the cold weather and enjoys going on walks when it’s colder outside. But Labradors can be harmed if the weather is too cold.
- Labradors And Their Double-Coats
- How Cold Can Labs Tolerate?
- How To Care For Your Lab During Winter
- Drawbacks From Cold Weather
Labradors And Their Double-Coats
The history of the Labrador Retriever is a long one. It is believed to be a descendant of the St. John’s dog from Newfoundland, Canada. Those dogs were used by fishermen to help with catching their fish in the cold outskirts of the land. This is why Labradors evolved so that they are very resistant to the cold.
Labradors have double coats. These double coats consist of the topcoat and the undercoat. The topcoat is rough and protects the undercoat. The undercoat provides insulation and keeps the dog warm. It also produces an oily substance that prevents water from sticking to the fur. That’s how it keeps them dry in the water. The only drawback to having this type of fur is that it is constantly shedding. So make sure to groom your dog properly.
How Cold Can Labs Tolerate?
Labradors can tolerate the cold up until 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or around -7 degrees Celsius. If you notice that the weather is colder, you should react to prevent your pup from getting cold.
Here are a few things that can affect your Labrador’s tolerance to cold temperatures.
Moisture In Fur
Even though Labradors are dogs with coats that are water-resistant, they can still get wet. If you get your dog outside and it’s raining, or if it gets into some water, make sure you dry it properly. If it gets damp, the cold weather and winds might make it feel some consequences.
Wind Chill Factor
The “wind chill factor” is the effect of warm-blooded creatures to perceive the surrounding temperature to be lower than it actually is due to cold winds. This means that even if the air is realistically 24 Fahrenheit, you might feel it a lot lower because of the wind.
The ideal temperature for a Labrador puppy and an older Lab might be higher than it is for a young or adult Lab. Young and adult Labradors are much better at regulating their temperatures than old Labs and Lab puppies.
Just like its age, its weight can also affect a Lab’s cold tolerance. Chunkier dogs are much more comfortable in colder temperatures because of the excess fat. The fat acts as an insulator and keeps the dog warm. Slimmer dogs are less tolerant of the cold.
Experience And Exposure
To get your Labrador used to the colder temperatures, you need to expose it more often and in time it will get used to it. You should take your Lab on short walks when it’s cold outside and see how it reacts. In time, it will be more and more comfortable with the colder weather.
Time Of Day
If you wonder “can Labradors sleep outside?”, you should know that the nights tend to be much colder than the days. So it is recommended to keep your dog warm inside the house during the cold night. Also try taking in on a walk during the midday, because the evenings can get chilly.
How To Care For Your Lab During Winter
If your dog feels cold during the winter, there are a few things you can do to make things easier.
Get An Insulated Kennel
For a dog that you keep outside during the winter, times can get rough. If you decide to let it sleep outside, you need to make sure it has somewhere to cuddle up and heat up.
Getting a dog kennel is the right thing to do, however, you should be careful of what kind of kennel you get. You should look for a well insulated kennel with a windproof entrance. The normal wooden kennels are not very good at keeping the cold out and the Labs get cold. Also, kennels that have flaps for doors can allow the winds to come through. Make sure it is spacious enough that your dog doesn’t feel claustrophobic.
If the weather gets too cold for you to be outside, just bring your Lab in.
Provide Healthy Food And Water
The winters can get cold, and your Lab’s body will need to work twice as hard to keep it warm. This work requires calories, and calories come from food. So you should feed a nutritious diet to your pup at all times, especially during winter. You can choose some dog foods like Pedigree and Purina and you can give a bit more than usual so you keep your pup warm.
Just like they need food, dogs also need much more water during the cold winters. Your Lab will be over-exerting itself because of the cold, and can easily become dehydrated. The water you give should be room-temperature or warm and not cold. Also, make sure you give the water inside, as outside water bowls can easily freeze over.
Get Some Blankets
We know that Labs can handle cold weather, but sometimes even they need a cozy warm blanket to keep them warm.
If you keep your Lab in a kennel, make sure to give it enough blankets so it can wrap inside them and keep it warm. One can also be used to cover the floor of the kennel so it can insulate from the ground. You can also get a well-cushioned bed for floor insulation.
One great option for a blanket is self-heated blankets. These are blankets that get heated up and provide even more protection against the cold.
Even if you have your dog living inside during these months, we still recommend giving it a blanket to keep warm.
Labs are cold weather dogs with thick double coats that keep them warm in the winter. So most people agree that jackets are not always needed. But if your Lab is sick, or it has a short haircut that is exposed to the cold weather, you should get a dog jacket to keep warm.
There are different types of jackets on the market to choose from. Try to find water-repellant, cozy jackets made with good materials.
Besides jackets, Labs might sometimes need boots to go play outside. Boots are great for places that put chemicals on the ground to melt the ice. The boots will protect your dog from contact with these chemicals and keep it warm.
Do Regular Vet Visits
Before you let your Labrador out in the cold weather of winter, you should consult your vet if it’s safe. Let your veterinarian examine your dog to see if it has any problems with its health.
The Labrador Retriever temperature tolerance can be lower if the Lab is sick. The cold weather can affect any diseases that your Lab has and make matters worse.
A Labrador that suffers from systemic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease will not tolerate the cold. These diseases make it harder to regulate body temperature.
If you have a Lab that is suffering from a muscle disease or arthritis, its mobility is decreased. But with the cold weather added, the symptoms of these diseases only get worse and make moving harder and more painful.
Get Your Dog Inside
You might be keeping your Lab outside because you don’t have enough space at home, or you want to keep things super clean. But the cold weather during winter can make your pup miserable if it’s outside.
You have to know how cold is too cold for Labs and react if it gets that cold. Labradors will start feeling cold at 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and at 20 degrees Fahrenheit it becomes too cold to withstand.
So if you know that the temperatures will be too cold to handle, let your dog inside your house. You can cuddle up on the couch and keep warm together.
If you need to go to work, you can leave your Labrador alone for 4 hours.
Drawbacks From Cold Weather
There are a few ways that cold weather can harm your Labrador. The cold can be a direct reason for causing some of these health issues.
According to the ACVS, hip dysplasia is a disease of the hip joint. It is a degenerative disease that makes the hip joint unable to function the right way. Because of this, it can cause a lot of stiffness and pain when moving around. It makes it hard for your dog to move.
You will notice problems with the walking of your Lab in cold weather. The cold can make the joints more stiff and painful causing the symptoms to get worse. Some common signs include limping, falling over, and pauses when walking.
Even if walking is recommended with this condition to keep the joints active, make sure you are not exposing your dog to the cold.
If you leave your Labrador in the cold for too long, it will be in danger of developing frostbite. Frostbite is a condition that happens when the dog’s body gets too cold. Its circulation is unable to reach the furthest points in the body and there we can see the most changes.
The paws, ears, and tail will be the organs most affected by this condition. Ice crystals will form in the tissues damaging them in the process.
If you have Labs in cold weather for an extended period you will notice a few symptoms. These include:
- Changing the color of the skin to pale or grey
- Swelling and inflammation in the area
- The area is cold when you touch it
- Your dog will feel the area as numb and painful
- In time the joints and muscles won’t be able to move
- Blisters form on the surface after a while
- The skin can become necrotic and die out
A dog that stays out in the cold for too long may develop hypothermia. This condition happens when your dog’s body temperature drops below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
To prevent this, you need to know the signs that your dog is feeling cold. These include:
- Shaking and shivering
- Barking or whining
- Being uncomfortable and anxious
- Hunched posture with a tucked-in tail
- Lifting its paws off the ground and not wanting to walk
- Seeking places for shelter
When you notice these symptoms you will know how cold can Labradors tolerate outside. But if you don’t act immediately, you will notice the signs of hypothermia.
- Lethargy and weakness
- Slow and shallow breathing
- Fixed and dilated pupils
- Losing consciousness
If the dog doesn’t get warmed up with these symptoms, hypothermia will lead to death.
When winter comes, the streets can get frozen which makes it hard for the cars to drive. So people put antifreeze or rock salt on the to melt that ice.
The problem is that antifreeze is also put on the sidewalks where people and dogs walk. Antifreeze has a sweet taste, but it is also very toxic. It contains a poisonous substance called “ethylene glycol” which is very dangerous for dogs and people. If your dog manages to lick some antifreeze off the sidewalk it may get poisoned.
Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning include:
- Wobbly walking
If you notice that your dog licked some antifreeze and has these symptoms, take it to the vet as soon as possible.
So Do Labs Like Cold Weather?
Labrador Retrievers are dogs that have the evolutionary advantage to be warm in colder temperatures. This is because they have developed double-coated furs that keep them warm and prevent them from getting wet.
Some factors can cause the Lab to be cold even if it has this advantage. Getting the fur wet and being exposed to winds can decrease the tolerance to the cold. Age, weight, and previous exposure to cold also play a big part.
The cold can affect your pup in bad ways. It causes more pain with illnesses like arthritis and hip dysplasia. It causes diseases like hypothermia and frostbite.
Because of this, you need to protect your Lab from the cold. To do this you should get a well insulated dog kennel with a lot of blankets, and give enough food and water. You can also let your dog inside the house.
Can Labs swim in cold water?
Labradors love to swim and they can tolerate cold water due to their double-coated furs. However, you should not let it swim for too long because it can develop hypothermia or frostbite.
Do Labradors like snow?
Labradors love snow and will be asking to come out and play in it during the winter. You need to make sure that it isn’t too cold outside to play and that there isn’t anything harmful in the snow to ingest.
Do Labs like cold weather or hot weather?
Labradors like cold weather more than hot. They can withstand temperatures from 20°F up to around 90°F. If your Lab stays in hot weather for too long it can overheat.