Can Labs Handle Cold Weather Conditions?
It’s vital to ensure that our dogs stay comfortable and safe during those cold winter months. Even Labradors get cold in cold temperatures despite the Labrador’s double coat.
Labs, formally referred to as the Labrador Retriever breed, are a popular dog breed known for their friendly and spunky personalities.
Hailing from Newfoundland, Canada, Labs are cold weather dogs that descend from working dogs used in hunting and fishing, allowing them to handle cold weather.
This noble history leaves an enduring legacy in these fantastic dogs, especially when the temperature drops.
Even though Labradors are generally well-suited for cold weather and can stand it better than other types of dogs, it’s still important to ensure they’re comfy and safe when temperatures drop.
Keep an eye on your Lab’s exercise routine, behavior, and health during outdoor activity in the winter.
It's also a good idea to monitor your Lab's weight during the colder months, as they may be less active and burn fewer calories.
How Cold Is Too Cold for a Labrador to be Outside?
When the cold temperatures set in, it’s important to give our pups some extra love. At 35F and below, make sure you provide your Labrador Retriever with adequate protection and care.
When temperatures drop this low, even dogs with thick coats, like Labradors, will need limited time outdoors and special protective gear, just like people do.
Should Labs Wear Boots in Cold Temperatures?
Yes. Labradors and dogs, in general, should wear boots to protect their paws in the winter.
Winter can be a challenging time for your dog, but investing in the right pair of boots and a set of cold weather gear can give them that sorely-needed defense against the cold weather and wet, slippery ground.
Cold weather boots made especially for dog paws offer improved warmth, traction, and insulation. It’s best to opt for a waterproof material to avoid soggy paws.
Best Winter Coat and Boots for Labs
We love styles that come with adjustable straps so our dogs can get a custom fit; it’s much easier to walk a dog wearing shoes if they’re as comfortable as possible.
Plus, boots are an opportunity for a little canine fashion. Compliment your Labrador’s coat with a little canine jacket to help them tolerate temperatures as they drop.
Our favorite picks are any dog shoe from Kurgo. Kurgo is trusted by us as well as the American Kennel Club. They’re a little pricier than some other products on the market, but the quality and reliability are worth it for your dog’s body.
They also sell dog socks, which can help your dog’s paws be more comfortable with new boots. Can you believe there’s such a thing to keep your Labrador warm?
Kurgo also makes great waterproof winter jackets for dogs to help your dog’s skin retain body heat.
Following these guidelines can help your Labrador Retriever enjoy the winter months while staying safe and healthy.
Do Vets Recommend Winter Boots to Keep My Dog Warm?
Yes! Veterinarians recommend winter boots for our dogs to prevent injury.
Labs have webbed feet, which can help them navigate through snow and ice, but it's still a good idea to use paw wax or booties to protect your dog’s feet from cold weather and rough surfaces.
You can also use balms and waxes on your dog’s ears and tail.
How Long Can a Lab Be Out in the Snow?
Aim for 15-30 minute play sessions with ample time afterward to keep your dog warm and relaxed. Any longer, and your Labradors get cold.
For Labs that love playing in the snow, it’s crucial to give them frequent breaks from the chilly wind and extremely cold outdoor adventures. Avoid prolonged exposure to the cold environment.
If your Lab seems distressed or uncomfortable in the cold temperatures, bring your dog inside and make sure they have plenty of warmth and comfort.
Some ideas for indoor activities with your Lab could include puzzle toys, training sessions, or playing fetch with a soft toy.
Can My Lab Sleep Outside in the Winter With Their Double Coat?
While Labradors are built for rugged outdoor life with their thick double coat, if your dog is a porch sleeper come the winter, then it’s best to make the move indoors for the cold nights.
If your dog has proper shelter and a warm, sturdy, clean, outdoor insulated kennel cover or dog house, they can sleep outdoors if the cold temperature is above 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature falls much lower, it’s no longer safe if your dog spends time in extreme cold. And don’t forget about the wind chill factor. The wind chill factor can be worse at night.
Any time of year, we warn against letting your dog sleep outside. Domesticated dogs are more vulnerable to weather and predators than wild animals.
It’s important to be able to keep an eye on your dog throughout the night to make sure they’re safe.
Dogs can watch you right back. Let your Labrador inside at night.
Inside or out, make sure the sleeping area is large enough for your Lab to move around comfortably, and provide plenty of blankets or a dog bed to keep them warm.
In addition to a warm place to sleep, it's important to make sure your Lab has access to fresh drinking water at all times. Water helps keep your Lab hydrated and can help regulate their body temperature.
If you're concerned about your Lab's water freezing in cold weather, consider using a heated water dish or bringing your Lab's water inside during the colder months.
What Happens If My Dog Gets Too Cold?
If your dog is too cold, they will start to shiver and have trouble managing their body temperatures as your dog’s body heat drops.
There are serious health conditions you may face in freezing temperatures when your Labradors get cold.
In the worst cases, hypothermia can happen, which is incredibly dangerous and life-threatening.
Your dog may be hypothermic if they are shivering, lethargic, and unresponsive after long periods outside in cold conditions. Decreased appetite is also a sign of low body temperature.
The ideal way to aid your cold dog is to slowly increase their body temp in blankets or towels in combination with a hot water bottle or heating pad set to low.
Make food and water available, too, but don’t force your dog to eat or drink.
Frostbite is another risk you run by having your Lab outside in the cold for too long. Frostbite is tissue damage resulting from extended exposure to the harsh cold.
Frostbite can be serious and can lead to permanent damage if left untreated.
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Too Cold?
Keep an eye out for pale, cold skin and signs of pain and tenderness. You may see blisters form in the most extreme cases.
Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible in case of real canine medical emergencies.
Treatment for frostbite entails gradual warming of the area, medication to reduce inflammation and discomfort, and antibiotics in case of infection.
Wound care can be administered if needed, too.
It's always better to err on the side of caution and bring them inside if you have any concerns.
Don’t assume there’s nothing to worry about if Labradors get cold. Often times a dog suffers in silence.
About THE AUTHOR
Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.Read more about Mark Brunson