Taking Care Of German Shepherd In Cold Weather
German Shepherds are cold-tolerant, but there are things you can do to keep them healthier, more comfortable, and easier to manage in cold weather.
Here are some of the most important tips for taking care of German Shepherds in the winter:
Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition. There is a point at which a dog experiencing severe chill can enter what veterinarians call a hypothermic spiral.
When a dogs body temperature falls below 94° F , it stops shivering.
Its blood vessels that had been constricted to help keep heat in your dogs core relax and start to radiate heat to the environment.
When your dogs body temperature falls below 88° F , it stops making additional heat and death comes in minutes.
German Shepherds that have recently had anesthesia are at the greatest risk for hypothermia.
The after-effects of being put under for an operation leave your dog especially vulnerable to the cold. Its important for German Shepherds to recover from surgery indoors.
German Shepherds that have not eaten enough protein for their bodies to make sugar a dogs body uses excess amino acids from protein foods to make sugar even if it does not eat carbs are especially vulnerable to hypothermia.
Its important to feed your dog on schedule in cold weather.
Dogs that have diabetes, thyroid problems, or other chronic conditions also need extra protection from the cold.
You can tell that your dog is hypothermic by these signs:
Protect Your Dog From Heaters
Dogs will often seek heat during cold winter weather by snuggling too close to heating sources. Avoid space heaters and install baseboard radiator covers to avoid your pet getting burned. Fireplaces also pose a major threat so please make sure you have a pet proof system to keep your heat-seeking pal out of harms way!
Protecting Your German Shepherd From The Outside Cold
The best way to protect your GSD from the outside cold is to have it stay under the sun.
Sunlight provides your dog with vitamin D. Not just that, it also calms them down, and helps your dog feel relaxed.
During the winter, staying under the sun will help fend off the cold weather. The sunlight cuts through the cold and keeps your dogs fur warm and cozy. The heat from the sun also helps regulate their body temperatures to some extent.
Of course, the sun may not always be there. In such cases, get your German Shepherd a jacket or a coat. This type of heavy clothing helps reduce the risk of hypothermia, and rapid breathing.
A jacket is always a good option for your GSD when it is going out for a walk or playing in the cold. For dog jackets, wool and fleece are the most popular material options.
You should also get them gloves or socks for their paws if there is ice outside. People use anti-freezing chemicals on the roads and in front of their houses to get rid of the ice.
They might also use salt to do the same. All these substances can do serious damage to your dogs paws. Hence, protect their paws if you must go outdoors during the snow.
So there you have it. Ensuring these simple things can help keep your dog safe while playing outdoors in the winter. They will also allow your dog to stay warm, and focus more on playing. That way, they can enjoy themselves, and be more active and lively.
Last Updated on December 15, 2021 by Shepped Team
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Can German Shepherds Live Outside In The Winter
German Shepherds, as you would expect, can handle cold weather quite well. With their thick coat, they can even sleep outside in the winter season.
Again, you want to keep outdoor living to a minimum with your German Shepherd. But if you have to keep your dog outside they can survive in certain winter weather conditions.
You just have to be mindful of the weather and how long you keep your dog outdoors.
But why do German Shepherds do so well in cold weather?
Part of this has to do with the German Shepherds coat. The German Shepherd has a double coat that not only protects them from the cold, but also from moisture.
With their thick coat, your dog will be able to repel some water and light flurries. But, once the weather gets more extreme, I suggest bringing your dog indoors.
Your dog can handle very cold weather, but once it starts hitting a certain temperature your pet will need to come inside. For instance, try not to leave your pet in sub-zero weather.
German Shepherds can handle weather below zero degrees but if it has been snowing and they are wet, this could end up leading to hypothermia.
And you might even end up killing your dog. On the same note, make sure that your dog is not out in winter storms.
Blizzards and large snow showers can make your dog cold and wet. Again, this could lead to hypothermia and death.
The best thing you can do is check the weather ahead of time. This way you know the exact conditions.
Keep The Dog Away From Antifreeze And Salt
Antifreeze and salt are essential during the cold season as they help melt the snow. However, if you own a German shepherd, caution is needed. If ingested, the antifreeze can turn out to be poisonous on your dog leading to gastric obstructions.
Additionally, your dog is at risk of getting its paws hurt if it steps on the salt-as salt tends to corrode its paws.
Consider getting you German shepherd boots, if you are to go for walks with it.
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The German Shepherd Ears Can Cause A Lot Of Trouble For Their Owners
Sometimes, the ears dont get up as they should. Bruno grew up a lot and fast and his ears were sort of left behind.
I have heard there are all kinds of sophisticated braces for that. I have chosen a simpler and cheaper way to help him raise his ears.
I have learned it here. Make sure you use this type of spongy pipe insulation that helps the ears breathe due to the middle hole. Also, pick a milder paper tape to stick the insulation so you dont pull up your dogs fur. And be patient, as he will hate it and will do his best to get rid of it.
Keep An Eye On His Behavior
A sick or an uneasy German shepherd dog always behaves abnormally. You can easily tell when something is wrong with him. Likewise, when you notice that he is not comfortable, is unable to walk, anxious, or is shivering take him to a warmer place as soon as possible.
Some German shepherd dogs also whine when they are unable to bear with the cold seasons.
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The German Shepherd Has A Strong Personality And Can Get Very Jealous
This breed is very serious when it comes to territory and family. This is 2 times worse if you have a male German Shepherd. His master and the family is everything to him and he will do his best to protect them, even when not necessary which is most of the times.
So expect a lot fussing about at the door, gate or fence and a lot of barking and sometimes howling. Dont play with friends like they attack you or they might get in serious trouble.
My Bruno doesnt lose sight of me wherever I go and is extremely not happy about sharing me with others. He gets very jealous of other dogs or children.
That is mostly because he expects to always be the center of attention. I am sure this can be solved through training or Cesar Milan. As I said before, I have failed to have total control over him.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
The Swissy was originally known as the poor man’s horse, and used as a draft dog for farmers, herdsmen, merchants, and even the Swiss during the second World War. A large and powerful breed weighing 85 to 140 pounds, this dog has a gentle attitude and moderate exercise needs, although they will eagerly hike, cart, herd, and backpack.
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How Come German Shepherds Dont Mind The Cold As Much As Other Dogs
You may have noticed that your german shepherd can handle the cold much more than other dogs. And its all thanks to their double coat.
A double coat consists of two different types of fur. In fact, its the reason that you can get your dog wet, but the water always seems to take forever to sink in.
The outer coat is there to protect your dog from the elements such as the wind and water. In fact, water is much more likely to glide off it, rather than be absorbed.
The inner coat is plush and warm. Its like insulation, and as long as it doesnt get wet, its going to help keep your german shepherd nice and warm.
It is important to note, that while in most cases german shepherds have a double coat, there are some that dont.
German Shepherds Have Double Coats
German Shepherds have something in common with Siberian Huskies, Shiba Inus, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Great Pyrenees.
They have a double coat.
This means that they have a top coat of long hair that protects them against ice and snow, and a bottom coat close to their bodies that keeps them warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
A German Shepherds upper coat consists of long, coarse hairs.
They dont give frozen precipitation lots of places to accumulate.
German Shepherds shed these longer, coarse hair more or less constantly.
A German Shepherds lower coat consists of short, fine hairs. They create a multitude of tiny air pockets that trap air warmed by your dogs body.
German Shepherds shed and renew their undercoat in a blowout that lasts for about 10 days, twice a year. Your house will have a carpet of dog hair about twice a year.
The effect of these two coats is that German Shepherds dress in layers, but they only change their layers twice a year.
Their shedding and regrowth cycles are timed to give them maximum protection from cold just in time for winter.
Double coats make German Shepherds ready to romp and play the first snow of every winter, or even the first snow of their lives.
They wont need any kind of doggie sweater even at temperatures of 20° F .
They can stay outdoors for up to two hours unprotected even at temperatures of -10° or -15° F , if their coats dont get wet.
But not all German Shepherds are equally well adapted to the cold.
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Checking With The Cold
Most dogs are usually comfortable with anything around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. For GSDs anything below 40 degrees can be damaging. Once the temperature goes below 20, they might suffer from hypothermia and frostbites.
It is best if you can avoid going outside with your German Shepherd at temperatures below 20. However, if you must, make sure your dog is well-protected with a proper winter jacket.
Thus, it is always a necessity to keep the temperature in check. That way, you can avoid harsh climate conditions whenever you are made aware of them.
Before you go out, check the weather forecasts. You should check the current state of the weather, as well as what you can expect later in the day. An app that uses real-time weather data will be ideal for this purpose.
Tomorrows weather app, for instance, can help you check the weather forecast for your locality, as well as whatever locations you plan on visiting with your dog.
You can check the temperatures and keep an eye out for harsh weather conditions like heavy rain or snow.
Your Dogs Natural Behavioral Adaptation
Just like a human, when moving from a warmer place to a colder one, it may take some time for your GSD to get used to the colder weather.
All dogs also have ways to retain heat. For one, their bushy tail can be used to cover the face and keep it warm while sleeping. Also, as a German Shepherd curls up, he retains heat better while sleeping. Raising the coat hairs also helps to trap heat and keep the body warm.
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Is It Ok For German Shepherds To Sleep Outside
It is sometimes ok for German Shepherds to sleep outside but it depends on the conditions. Some German Shepherds prefer sleeping outside if it is too hot inside the house, other GSDs like to sleep outside to guard the house.
Generally, German Shepherds shouldnt be left outside unattended overnight. However, if your dog likes sleeping outside you can take efforts to secure a safe place for them to sleep while being outside. Such as a garage or other shelter so that they are safe while you sleep.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For German Shepherds
Age is one of the factors that determine what temperatures your German shepherd will tolerate comfortably. Elderly German shepherds as well as puppies may not be able to withstand a temperature of about 10C.
The same applies to sick German shepherds.
When temperatures get below 4C, it becomes too tough for him.
On the other hand, the lowest temperature a German shepherd can withstand is -6.7C. Such temperatures could make your German shepherd sick. They may suffer from frostbite. Else, hypothermia.
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Stray And Outdoor Cats Need A Warm Home
In our neighborhood, we have several outdoor and stray cats who visit our house each day for love, along with food and water. Although they may have their own house and family, we still worry about them and provide them with whatever they might need. When the weather turns colder, this includes an outdoor house for shelter.
Having very little money at the moment didn’t stop us from making them a shelter of their own. With a little ingenuity and creative recycling, we made a cat house that can provide warmth and security even during the winter months.
Is Your Dog Cold
If its too cold for you to stand at the door without your coat, its probably too cold for your dog too, so pay attention to her behavior while shes outdoors.
If you notice your dog whining, shivering or appearing anxious, or she stops playing and seems to be looking for places to burrow, then its time to bring her in.
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Key Components For Outside Housing:
Made from strong, sturdy material that will not be damaged in high winds.As you can imagine, weak housing could potentially collapse or break with your German Shepherd inside! Thick timber or even a metal structure is ideal.
Weather-resistant.In order for your German Shepherd to stay warm, there cant be any wind and it must be completely waterproof. If the temperatures are subzero even a slightly cold draft will make it much harder for him to remain warm.
Not too big.If the housing is too big, your GSD will find it harder to keep warm. The housing needs to be large enough for him to move around, stand up and walk in and out. Avoid high ceilings to keep the warmth lower down and closer to your GSD. Cozy is good!
Provide flooring.This may have been obvious, but over the years I have seen many outside housing units that have no flooring just straight on top of the mud. Flooring is a crucial part of keeping the warmth inside, without it, the ground will absorb any heat instantly.
Provide blankets or hay.Providing warm soft bedding for your german shepherd is a must for them to keep their body heat to themselves. Without a blanket, their body heat will be drawn out of them into the ground. Blankets or even hay both work well.
Water.Last but not least, clean fresh water must be topped up before bedtimes.
Dogs Have Special Attributes To Keep Warm
According to Dog Discoveries, all dogs have basic traits and behaviors to stay warm when it is cold out. Your German Shepherd is better adapted than some other breeds.
- Bushy tail to cover face when sleeping Dogs will often sleep in a curled position to minimize heat loss and GSDs have exceptionally bushy tails to keep nose and eyes warm.
- A counter-current heat exchanger in paws A network of blood vessels maintains heat in a dogs paws similar to a penguins feet.
- Piloerection When your German Shepherd puffs up, her guard hairs and undercoat trap cold air away from her skin and body.
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Interested In Training Your German Shepherd The Right Way
If you havent trained your German Shepherd properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether its barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.
The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.
With Brain Training For Dogs youll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog wont listen, youll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, thats given proven results. Not to mention the fact, youll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.
So instead of worrying about whether theyre going to be well-behaved or not, youll only have to worry about how much fun youll have with them!
And in most cases its still going to be:
- Cheaper than hiring a professional.
- Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
- And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.
Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your German Shepherd completely and never worry whether theyll be naughty or not. Instead, youll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them, will always be there, EVEN IF YOURE NOT.