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How Cold Is Too Cold for a Pitbull? Signs, Risks & Safety

Written by: Keri-Beth Clur

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

How Cold Is Too Cold for a Pitbull? Signs, Risks & Safety

VET APPROVED

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSC GPCERT (OPHTHAL) MRCVS

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

Learn more »

If your Pitbull loves the freedom of being outside in your yard or going on walks with you in the park, little will cause them to pass up on the opportunity, even when temperatures drop. Of course, as a pet parent, you want your dog to be able to enjoy their day by playing and getting the exercise they need, but if temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, you should cut down their time outside. However, temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit start to become dangerous for some Pitbulls, and they shouldn’t be left outside alone, especially if they’re not moving about.

Temperatures below 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit could cause serious problems for your dog, such as hypothermia or frostbite, and going outside isn’t recommended. It’s hard to give a definite answer for how cold is too cold for your individual Pitbull because their age, weight, and health status, as well as the type of weather conditions accompanying the cold, all play a role.

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Factors That Influence How Your Pitbull Responds to the Cold

Dogs of different breeds respond to the cold differently, and so does one Pitbull to another. A Pitbull has a short coat, which doesn’t protect the breed from the cold very well. Although no Pitbull should be left unsupervised in freezing temperatures, we’ve listed a few factors that may cause one Pitbull to be more sensitive to the cold than another.

Portrait of a beautiful grey female pitbull dog having fun and running across the snow in winter outdoors
Image By: Annabell Gsoedl, Shutterstock

Weight

The size of a Pitbull varies from medium to large. However, they’re very muscular and can weigh up to 80 pounds. Although these dogs have short coats, their strong, muscular bodies give them an advantage in the cold because muscle produces heat. It also provides additional protection to preserve core temperature. Therefore, a heavy-muscled Pitbull will respond to the cold better than a dog with less muscle mass

Age & Health Status

Puppies and senior dogs struggle to regulate their body temperature and one should be more careful with them. As a general rule, they shouldn’t be left outside in temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Sickly dogs also struggle with this and will become cold much faster than healthy dogs.

Weather Conditions

A low temperature isn’t the only factor you have to consider when letting your dog outside. Some chilly days have bright, sunny skies, and although your Pitbull will likely be alright in low temperatures, they will feel the cold more if it is accompanied by wind, rain, snow, fog, and cloud cover.

Signs That Your Dog Is Too Cold

If your Pitbull loves to dig and run in the snow, you can let them, as long as you are supervising them outside, watching how long they’re spending outside, and making sure that they’re staying active. If your dog is running and playing, their bodies will be generating heat, but if they’ve exhausted themselves and are resting, bring them inside to prevent them from becoming cold and stiff.

While you’re outside with your dog, watch their behavior and look for signs of discomfort. You’ll know they’re too cold if they start to slow down, don’t want to walk anymore, are shivering, whimpering, looking for shelter, limping, and becoming increasingly anxious.

If your dog has become too cold and you see these signs, bring them inside immediately and dry them off with a towel. Wrap them up in a big blanket or get them to lie down in front of the heater to warm up.

Sad white brown pitbull laying in bed
Image By: Photo Spirit, Shutterstock

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Risks of Leaving Your Dog Out in the Cold

Although leaving your adult Pitbull outside unsupervised in temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t advised, they might be okay but it depends on the weather conditions accompanying the cold, the degree of physical activity of your dog, and their health status. However, the real danger arises when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, as even your big, muscular Pitbull can be at risk of hypothermia or frostbite.

Regardless of whether the sun is out, your dog is wearing a jersey, or they have their own wooden shelter, you should not leave your dog outside in below-freezing conditions. If you see a dog left vulnerable outside in these temperatures, don’t be afraid to contact your local animal control agency immediately and report what you see, as this small action could save the dog’s life.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a high risk for dogs that are left out in freezing temperatures. It sets in when a dog’s body temperature decreases to 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and symptoms can include:

  • Trembling
  • Cold paws
  • Lethargy
  • Blue or pale gums
  • Inability to walk properly
  • A slow heart rate
  • Trouble breathing

Severe cases of hypothermia will cause dogs to collapse, become comatose, and can be fatal. This is an emergency case.

Frostbite

Frostbite is another risk for dogs left outside in freezing temperatures. It happens when there is tissue damage caused by extreme cold. The blood vessels in a dog’s tail, ear tips, and paws restrict in an attempt to keep their core warm, as this is where their vital organs are. The lack of blood flow to these areas due to the cold can cause them to freeze, and serious tissue injury may occur.

Signs of frostbite are:
  • The extremities turning gray, blue, or black
  • Coldness in their extremities
  • Brittleness in their extremities
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Blisters

Frostbite goes hand-in-hand with hypothermia, so treat the hypothermia first by attempting to increase the dog’s body temperature by wrapping them in blankets and placing heat sources around them. You will need to get the dog to a vet, where they will receive the necessary treatment. In very severe cases, surgery or amputation to remove the damaged tissue might be necessary.

pitbull dog check by vet
Image By: Andy Gin, Shutterstock

How To Keep Your Dog Safe from the Cold

Keeping your dog in your heated home is the best way to keep them safe from the cold, but there are times when they’ll need to be let outside for a bit of exercise or to relieve themselves.

Here are a few ways to keep them safe from the cold and the effects it can have on your dog:
  • Wash with warm water and dry your dog’s feet and stomach after walks.
  • Put booties over your dog’s feet.
  • Get a coat for them to wear when outside.
  • Ensure your dog is well-fed and well-hydrated
  • Move their bed away from any drafts.

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Conclusion

Different dogs have varying degrees of tolerance when it comes to the cold winter weather, but your Pitbull shouldn’t be left outside unsupervised in temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less. If your dog is left outside in low temperatures, they will be at risk of hypothermia and frostbite, so keep them inside and only take them outside for short walks. You can add booties to their paws and dress them in a coat for extra warmth.


Featured Image Credit: shymar27, Shutterstock

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