Golden Retrievers were bred to help their owners retrieve game from water and bushes, and their double coats and webbed toes have enhanced their abilities to thrive in rough conditions. This means that Goldens don’t mind the cold too much. But even so, how well can Golden Retrievers tolerate cold weather?
They can, to a certain extent, but they should not be taken out into cold weather when the temperature is below 20F (-7C) without wearing protective gear. Golden Retrievers cope quite well in winter, but they can also get cold; if they get too cold, it can lead to various health problems.
We know that Golden Retrievers tolerate cold weather, but knowing what is considered too cold and how to protect these fur babies in harsh conditions is important. Barksinthepark has you covered on everything Golden, and this article will cover everything you need to know about Golden Retrievers and cold weather:
Table of Contents
- 1 When Is It Too Cold For Goldies To Go Out?
- 2 A Golden Retriever’s Traits & Cold Tolerance
- 3 The Risks Involved For A Golden Retriever In Cold Weather
- 4 The Best Ways To Look After Your Golden Retriever In Winter
- 5 FAQs
- 6 Final Thoughts
When Is It Too Cold For Goldies To Go Out?
You must know what temperatures are considered too chilly for your Golden Retriever. The outdoor temperature will be crucial in determining how cautious you need to be when taking your dog outside.
Your canine companion can still have fun in winter, but keeping your dog warm should be your number one priority. Generally speaking, it is far too chilly for Golden Retrievers to be outside if the temperature is below about 14F (-10C). This means that you should adjust all of your playtime activities accordingly and limit the time you spend outside.
If you have a healthy adult Golden Retriever, you could get away with spending 30 to around 60 minutes outdoors having some fun and engaging in outdoor activities while the temperature is above 14F. Just remember that when the mercury dips below 20F, your pup should be wearing booties at the very least.
Those temperatures only serve as a guide, however, and aren’t set in stone. Various factors dictate what temperatures your pup can and will tolerate, and the length of time they can spend outside in the cold weather.
All dogs are different; some Golden Retrievers can handle the cold much better than others. They are unique and have their personal preferences, just like humans. As pet parents, it is essential that you are aware of the activities that are suitable for your pet when the temperature drops.
When playing with your dog outside, keep an eye on them and look out for any signs of discomfort. They can still have a good time in cold climates, but be sure to use your common sense and keep your canine safe.
A Golden Retriever’s Traits & Cold Tolerance
When it comes to your Golden Retriever, or any dog for that matter, you will likely come across some guidelines that state what temperature is best for dogs in cold climates.
The only problem is that this recommendation is usually very general and fails to consider all the different dogs’ traits. The following are some of the common traits that impact how a Golden Retriever can tolerate cold weather:
Size and weight
Golden Retrievers are considered medium to large dogs. The breed standard is around 55 to 74 lbs, but your Golden can grow much bigger than this. Golden Retrievers sometimes weigh as much as 100 lbs!
Why does this matter? Well, simply put, the bigger the dog is, the better their tolerance for the cold. Small dogs do not generate the same level of heat as larger dogs do.
Smaller dogs are also much closer to the ground, and their bodies could even touch the snow – when there is snow, that is. This can make it challenging to regulate their body temperature. And since Golden Retrievers have a double coat and are on the larger side, they can tolerate the snow and cold quite well.
We know larger dogs cope better in the cold than their smaller counterparts. However, weight also plays a role, and a Golden Retriever that is borderline obese or overweight will not handle the cold well. The same goes for a dog that is too skinny or underweight.
For an overweight dog, the extra layer of fat can add some more insulation for warmth, but the extra poundage puts their bodies under strain. This also makes it harder to exercise, and cold temperatures and deeper snow will certainly add to their stress.
On the other hand, an underweight Golden could be in a very bad state of health because of malnutrition, which is an extra stressor. An underweight dog will be less tolerant to the cold, and their little nutrition can affect their coat too.
Golden Retrievers have a double coat that is very dense, which keeps them nice and warm. Their coats are not as long as those of other double-coated dogs, but they do add an extra protective layer.
Their double coat allows this breed to cope in the water and tolerate colder temperatures. Their outer coat is lustrous and long, and is commonly called their “guard layer” for protecting the inner coat.
This inner coat (or undercoat) sits beneath their golden coat. It consists of downy and feathery fur that protects their skin from the cold and sun and is water-repellant. Their beautiful double coat gives them thermal insulation to keep them warm during the winter months.
Although they have a double coat, you still need to be cautious. A Golden Retriever was bred for very harsh weather conditions and cold temperatures, but they still can’t go out in freezing temps for hours.
Letting your pup out in the cold is not a good idea if it has health problems. Dogs in poor health are at risk and very susceptible to colder weather. Health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, and kidney disease can compromise a canine’s ability to regulate their body heat.
So it is best to keep your Retriever indoors if they are in poor health, as they should not be exposed to harsh winter weather. In this case, speaking to your vet and seeing what they feel is appropriate is best.
Age also impacts a Golden Retriever’s cold tolerance. Older dogs and young pups are less tolerant than mature dogs in their prime. Colder temperatures are extremely taxing on young and older dogs, especially because they struggle to regulate their overall body temperature as is.
Puppies are also very little, so apart from being unable to generate a lot of heat, their tiny size means that their bellies may touch the snow (or they might even get fully immersed in the snow if it’s especially deep!).
Older Goldens also suffer from various health issues and usually have joint problems, which can easily be exacerbated by the cold. An older dog also doesn’t have the same muscle mass or metabolism as a younger dog, which also reduces their cold tolerance.
The Risks Involved For A Golden Retriever In Cold Weather
Every Golden Retriever loves to play and have fun outside, but as loving pet owners, we also need to know what is best for our little Golden Retrievers. A dog just wants to run around but is not the greatest judge when the weather is too cold, so we need to know when it is best to keep them indoors.
Golden Retrievers are at high risk of getting frostbite, hypothermia, and much more if they spend too much time out in the cold. This cold weather can also cause extra stress to their pre-existing conditions like heart, kidney, or joint issues. This is why it is best to limit their outdoor time when it is freezing. You should never leave Golden Retrievers unattended in the cold.
Even humans don’t like frigid temperatures; the same goes for Golden Retrievers. Various health risks are involved, and it helps to be aware of them to protect your Golden Retriever. The following are some of the risks that Golden Retrievers face:
Frostbite can occur when the skin freezes and damage is caused to the underlying skin. Golden Retrievers can suffer from frostbite too, and their noses, paws, and ears are the most vulnerable.
Keep a watchful eye on your dog for signs of frostbite. The skin on affected areas might be discolored; it may turn gray, pale, or bluish. This skin can feel brittle or cold to the touch; the area might swell up, followed by the development of ulcers, blisters, and areas of dead or blackened skin.
If you believe that your dog has frostbite, here’s what to do:
- Take your Golden Retriever to the vet as soon as you can. Catching frostbite early means there’s a better prognosis – your dog might be right as rain after they thaw.
- Do not massage or rub the affected areas.
- Move your dog to a dry and warm area immediately.
- Do not try and warm the area up while you are outdoors; first move inside to prevent refreezing.
- When taking your Golden Retriever to the vet, wrap them in blankets or towels and keep the car warm.
- Do not use external heating sources like a blow drier or anything to heat the affected area. You can put bottles of warm water close to your dog, as long as there is a blanket between the bottle and their skin.
- Do not give your Golden Retriever any pain medication until you get told to do so by the vet.
Mild cases of frostbite get resolved quite quickly and don’t leave any permanent damage. Moderate cases can result in alterations of the affected tissues, and in extreme cases, surgical removal of the dead tissues or amputation is required.
Hypothermia can occur when your Golden Retriever’s body temperature is abnormally low and is classified as mild, moderate, or severe. This can happen easily when dogs are exposed to extreme temperatures.
The following signs may show that a Golden Retriever has hypothermia:
- Increased or rapid heart rate, which is followed by a slower heart rate.
- Sluggishness and lethargy.
- Breathing problems: either slow, shallow breaths or rapid breathing.
- They struggle or are unable to walk.
- Delayed reflexes and slow to respond.
- Blue gums or paleness.
- Dilated pupils.
- Cold to the touch.
- Losing consciousness.
Get in touch with your vet as soon as possible to see if you need to take your pup to the emergency room. Even if you feel it is a mild case, it is always best that the vet assesses your precious pet.
If you feel that your pup has hypothermia, remove them from the freezing cold immediately and take them to a warmer environment to increase their body temperature. If your Golden Retriever is wet, dry them off gently and then wrap them up in lots of warm blankets.
Avoid using space heaters and blow dryers. If you increase your Golden Retriever’s temperature too quickly, it can cause some other problems. If it is a severe case, your dog may require IV fluids from the vet.
Triggering existing health problems
Another risk is that your dog can run into more problems if they are already suffering from an underlying condition. If your dog suffers from heart issues, diabetes, or joint issues, these conditions may be aggravated by the cold.
You should discuss with the vet the best way to cope with colder temperatures if your Retriever isn’t in the best of health. You may need to find alternative forms of exercise to avoid putting your dog out in the cold.
And if your Golden Retriever suffers from minor issues, then you may just need to put a sweater and some booties on them and limit the activities and total time outdoors when there are freezing temperatures.
Antifreeze is a toxic liquid that is used in car engines as a way to stop the fluids inside from freezing during the winter. It is either pink, blue, yellow, red, or green. Antifreeze is very toxic for dogs; ingesting it will cause kidney failure.
Dogs will try to drink antifreeze if they have the chance, as they love its sweet taste, but it is fatal in even the smallest doses. A Golden Retriever puppy can consume a deadly amount purely by licking its paw after they have stood in it. Even half a palm full of the stuff can kill a full-grown Golden Retriever.
If your dog has ingested antifreeze, they may start having seizures, staggering when they move, vomiting, urinating a lot, or drinking excessive amounts of water. Their muscles may start to twitch and your dog may seem drunk.
Diagnosis and treatment
The vet will run a few simple urine or blood tests to diagnose your Golden Retriever. If the results come back positive, the vet will make your dog vomit to eliminate the leftover antifreeze in their system. If your dog shows neurological signs, the vet will give them the antidote, 4-methyl pyrazole (4-MP, fomepizole).
Your dog will then be observed and hospitalized for 36 hours. During this time, they will be given IV fluids to treat electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and nausea. The vet will then give some charcoal to your dog to bind up the antifreeze left in their stomach.
The Best Ways To Look After Your Golden Retriever In Winter
As a pet parent, you can do various things to ensure that your canine companion stays healthy and safe during the winter. The following tips can help you take the best care of your Golden Retriever during the winter months:
- Consider a sweater and booties to protect your dog’s paws when the temperature is frigid.
- Watch out for grit, sand, and de-icers on the path walk, and always clean your dog’s paws after going for a walk.
- Try implementing some doggie daycare classes or indoor games if it is cold outside.
- Do not let your Retriever off of its leash if there is a snowstorm, as it could get lost very easily.
- Most greenhouses or pet stores allow dogs to be on a leash, so a calm walk around the shop can also give them some good exercise.
- Make sure that the antifreeze is out of reach and sight.
- Be very alert in traffic. There are fewer daylight hours during the winter months which can lead to accidents.
- You should still let your dog exercise during the colder months. If they do not exercise enough, it can lead to health issues and weight gain.
- You could also use your time indoors to teach your fur baby tricks and new commands. This way, they will burn energy and you’ll both be kept busy!
Do Golden Retrievers need winter coats?
Their fur is generally enough to keep them warm during the cold. But a jacket is recommended when it is extremely cold.
How can I tell if my dog is cold?
You may notice that your dog is shivering, barking, or whining. They may tuck in their tails or show signs of odd behaviors.
Golden Retrievers tolerate cold weather to a certain extent. Their double coats help keep them warm, but they will not be very happy in extreme cold. So, as the owner, you should know when it is too cold to let your pup outside.
You can take your pup out for walks or hikes, so you may wonder, are Golden Retrievers good hiking dogs? And they sure are, as long as it is a safe temperature outside. Luckily, you can still do many fun activities with your pup when it’s cold and snowing outside. They can still have fun, but ensure it is safe!