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Do Dog’s Paws Get Cold? Vet Approved Facts & Safety Tips

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Ashley Bates

east Siberian Laika puppy walking in the snow

Do Dog’s Paws Get Cold? Vet Approved Facts & Safety Tips


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dogs seem to walk outdoors in toasty and frigid temperatures without much reaction. So, can a pup’s paws even get cold? Of course, dogs’ paws can get cold! Anything from cold temperatures to health concerns might make your pup’s tootsies feel chilled.

There is no straight answer here, as it is purely environmental and situational. Here we will discuss the possibilities—and explain when it might be time to see a vet.


Paws Are Not Protected by Fur

They might have a full coat, but a layer of fur does not protect your dog’s paws. Therefore, this sensitive skin can feel cold and even get frostbite, just like humans. Some dogs can be extra susceptible to cold temperatures.

Dogs Can Get Frostbite

Extremities, including the paws, are the most susceptible to frostbite. Other common areas to be affected include the ears, nose and tail. It’s even more likely if your dog is damp or wet.

In extreme conditions, dogs can develop frostbite in as little as 15 minutes—but typically, it starts around the 30-minute mark. That is why pet professionals recommend shortening walks or trips outside during frigid temperatures.

dog scared at snow
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

What Can Worsen Frostbite Risk?

Some factors potentially worsen the risk of frostbite.

These include:
  • Being Wet: Being wet in freezing conditions can worsen the risk of frostbite. It can cause water to freeze to skin and other sensitive parts, exposing the skin to dangerous iciness.
  • Age, size and coat: While any dog can be affected by frostbite, small dogs, shorthaired or bald dogs, puppies and senior dogs are at increased risk of frostbite.


How to Protect Paws in the Cold

What can you utilize to make your pup’s paws warmer in the cold of winter? Here are a few ideas.

1. Use Booties

You can buy booties in virtually any size, making them compatible with large and small breeds. So, if you have a sensitive pup that gets cold tootsies, you can certainly buy a pair.

a yorkshire terrier dog wearing jumpsuit and boots walking in snow
Image By: Al More, Shutterstock

2. Apply Paw Balm

Paw balm will protect the skin of the paw pads and shield them from snow and ice for brief periods. It also helps keep the skin moist and soft, too.

3. Keep Trips Outside Brief

While temperatures are below freezing, it is a good idea to keep trips outside for less than 10 minutes at a time.

Cute black labradoodle dog standing Snow
Image By: MartinJGruber, Shutterstock

4. Towel Dry Feet Often

You can take a towel out to keep your pup’s feet dry and salt-free. We still recommend making trips quick, but it can help for longer stretches.


Other Issues that Cause Cold Paws

If outdoor weather is no issue, but you’ve noticed your dog has cold paws—it could be medically related. Cold paws could be a sign of poor circulation. So, what health issues can cause poor circulation to your dog’s extremities?


Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland. Underactive thyroid glands lead to a lack of thyroid hormones.

Low levels of thyroid hormones in the body causes lower metabolism and affects thermoregulation meaning a dog will generally be a little colder, often meaning colder paws.

Other signs of hypothyroidism include:
  • Weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Dry, dull hair
  • Excessive shedding
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Slow heart rate
  • Cold intolerance
  • Abnormal nerve function

Vets run blood panels to check thyroid hormones. While it isn’t a curable condition, it is certainly treatable. Your vet will prescribe the proper medications as needed.


Anemia is the medical term referring to a decreased number of red blood cells, hemoglobin or both.

Many conditions can cause anemia in dogs.

They can be grouped into the following categories:
  • Diseases that cause breakdown or destruction of red blood cells
  • Conditions that cause blood loss
  • Diseases which cause the bone marrow to not produce adequate amounts of red blood cells

Anemia can be a sign of a potentially serious underlying condition and needs urgent veterinary attention. Often the most obvious sign is pale gums. Paws may feel colder due to reduced blood flow to them.

Other signs of anemia include:
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Signs of blood loss


Hypoglycemia is a medical condition that causes low blood glucose levels. Typically, there is an underlying medical condition accompanying this disorder.

Hypoglycemia causes insufficient energy reaching the organs of the body.

It can cause your dog to have cold paws but is usually accompanied by much more serious signs including:
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness/disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Fainting

If your dog is showing any of these signs, contact your vet immediately.

Heart Problems

Heart issues are also notorious for causing poor circulation, leading to extremity coldness. The main types of heart disease include valve and heart muscle disease.

Signs of heart problems include:
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Collapse/fainting

Always contact your vet if your dog is showing any signs of a heart problem. Treatment will depend on the type of underlying problem.

divider-dog paw

When to See a Vet

Dogs can have cold paws, especially if they just returned from a chilly day. However, if the pup has temporary cold paws, that should go away as they warm up. However, if this is an ongoing problem, it might be due to another condition.

If you suspect frostbite or another health issue, contact your veterinarian right away. It will require immediate treatment or general testing to determine the underlying cause.

a shih tzu dog being checked by two vets
Image By: KongNoi, Shutterstock

divider-dog paw


So, yes, a dog’s paws can get cold. This can happen due to normal things like the weather. Or, it can be much more complex, resulting in injury or stemming from illness.  If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to a veterinary professional.

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Featured Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

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