Greyhounds are elegant, majestic dogs that are well known for their athleticism and stamina, but they can be vulnerable too. If you are looking to properly care for one of these wonderful animals, you’ll want to know: do greyhounds get cold?
Low body fat, short fur, and relatively thin skin mean that greyhounds can suffer in colder temperatures. Their physiology is designed to keep their body heat down while they are running at high speeds rather than to keep themselves warm. Greyhounds feel the cold more than most dog breeds, and this can be a risk to their health and wellbeing.
Nobody likes to shiver and feel cold, and the same goes for our pets. In this article, you will find details about the risks of cold temperatures on Greyhounds, how to tell if your dog is feeling the cold, and what solutions you can find to keep these lovely dogs safe and warm.
Do Greyhounds Get Cold More Than Other Dogs?
Dog breeds vary greatly in their body shapes and fur types so there is a big difference between the sorts of temperatures that they feel comfortable in. Large dogs with thick fur, like Huskies and Saint Bernards, are happy in the cold and are more at risk in warmer climates.
Smaller dogs, on the other hand, tend to struggle more with the cold, particularly dogs with low body fat and less natural protection from their skin and fur. Out of all the different breeds, Greyhounds are among the most susceptible to cold temperatures, and they can get chilly pretty quickly in the winter.
It is obvious just from looking at them that Greyhounds don’t have a large layer of fat on their bodies to keep them warm, and they are not protected by thick skin or long fur either. To run at the speeds that they can, Greyhounds actually need to keep their body temperature as low as possible, to stop them from overheating.
The knock-on effect of this is that they can’t warm themselves up as effectively when they aren’t exerting a lot of energy. As temperatures get lower, their bodies will focus on warming their internal organs and their extremities will start to cool down very quickly.
What Are the Risks of a Greyhound Getting Too Cold?
Cold weather can be a risk to any animal, and ultimately the worst-case scenario for extreme exposure is death. There are more common risks, though, which can affect your dog even at less extreme temperatures.
- Hypothermia. Mild hypothermia will start to set in when your Greyhound’s body temperature goes below 99°F and is considered severe at any temperature less than 82°F.
- Joint stiffness and discomfort. In the cold, your dog’s joints will become stiff and the tissues around them can swell, putting pressure on their nerves and causing pain.
- Strain on the heart. At lower temperatures, your dog’s heart will have to work harder to keep them warm, and this can cause an irregular heartbeat or lower levels of oxygen around the body.
- Altered metabolism. The cold can slow down digestion as well as increase the number of calories that your dog’s body is burning, leading to weight loss.
- Frostbite. If your dog’s body becomes extremely cold, below 32°F, it can cause blood flow to be diverted away from the extremities, leading them to become frozen and suffer severe tissue damage.
How Can You Tell if a Greyhound is Cold?
Your dog won’t be able to speak up and let you know when they’re feeling too cold, and often their desire to get outside and have some fun will override the cold that they’re feeling. This means that you need to watch out for key signs to make sure that your dog is warm and happy.
- Shivering. Shivering is a common sign that your dog is becoming cold, but it may not always be obvious. Often, the shivers will come on in spasms rather than happen consistently, and you might need to touch them to be able to feel it. Shivering may also indicate that your Greyhound is feeling sick, weak, frightened, or in pain.
- Cold ears and paws. The natural body temperature of Greyhounds is higher than that of humans, so they should feel warm to the touch. If your dog’s ears or paws feel cold, it probably means that your dog is not warm enough.
- Curling up into a ball. To maintain their body heat, Greyhounds will curl up into a tight ball when they are feeling cold. They will stretch out and relax again when they have warmed up.
- Not wanting to touch the ground. If your dog is pulling their paws away from the ground outside or is unwilling to walk forwards, they are probably much too cold and should be brought inside immediately.
How Do You Keep a Greyhound Warm?
If you are seeing signs that your greyhound is getting too cold, then you will want to find a way to warm them up. Be careful not to overdo it though, as rapid changes in temperature can be damaging as well.
Bringing your dog indoors, getting them some food, and putting them somewhere warm with a blanket will normally do the trick, but you may need to think about changing their environment a little as well. If your Greyhound is regularly cold indoors, you can increase the temperature or give them access to somewhere warmer, like a bed near a fire or radiator.
Adding more blankets and insulation to your dog’s bed can be a quick solution, but you may want to move or adapt it too. You should keep their bed away from draughts, and you can even provide some shelter for them as well. Additionally, you can lift your dog’s bed off the floor, and this can be as simple as adding some extra padding underneath it.
You should also keep a close eye on your Greyhound’s diet to make sure that they are maintaining a healthy weight for their size. Underweight Greyhounds are much more likely to struggle with the cold and this can be seriously dangerous for their health.
Do Greyhounds Need Indoor Coats?
If you have a particularly draughty home, or you can’t raise the temperature in other ways, an indoor coat can be a good solution in the winter months or at night. If you are in this situation, though, you may need to consider whether the environment is suitable for your dog.
A healthy adult Greyhound shouldn’t need to wear a coat at normal temperatures, either indoors or outdoors. If your dog is consistently too cold, even in the summer, then they may be unwell, or your home may not be warm enough. Elderly Greyhounds and those that are sick, on the other hand, may well benefit from wearing an indoor coat more often.
Do Greyhounds Need Coats in Winter?
In the wintertime, your dog is more likely to need a coat, particularly when temperatures fall below freezing. At night, your dog might be more comfortable in an indoor coat, and you should consider putting a coat on them for a walk any time you feel the need to bundle up yourself.
If your dog is constantly moving while they are outdoors, then they will generally keep themselves reasonably warm during a quick walk, even in colder temperatures. If they are going to be outside for longer periods of time, or if there is a cold wind, then they may need some extra protection to stay safe.
If there is snow on the ground, that is a good signal to reach for your dog’s coat.
What Temperature is Too Cold for a Greyhound?
It is hard to give a specific temperature that is too cold for your dog. Even when it is below freezing, they may be able to safely take a walk with a coat on, and it won’t cause them any problems. On the other hand, consistently cold temperatures can be problematic for your dog’s health even if they are not too extreme.
Indoors, you want your dog to be warm enough that they can stretch out and relax, and exactly what temperature that is will depend on your dog’s own metabolism and temperature regulation. Anything from 68°F to 72°F should be very comfortable for a Greyhound so if they are acting too cold at this temperature, consult with your vet.
When you’re heading outside, temperatures below freezing, or 32°F, is when you should be more careful. That’s not to say that it is too cold for your dog to get out and have some exercise, as long as they are well protected and you are keeping a close eye on them.
The Verdict: Do Greyhounds Get Cold?
So, do Greyhounds get cold? The answer is yes, and temperature is certainly something that any Greyhound owner should keep a relatively close eye on. They are skinny dogs with not much protection from the elements, so their body temperature can be greatly affected by cold weather.
If your Greyhound gets too cold, it can be seriously dangerous for their health, so you need to look out for any signs that they are getting chilly. Coats can be a real help in the winter, and you should definitely make sure that your dog is well-fed and healthy. Greyhounds also need a warm, comfortable environment in which to sleep and rest.
A warm Greyhound is a happy Greyhound, and there is very little in the world that is more wonderful than a happy Greyhound.