Do Dogs Hibernate? (Winter Weather Questions Answered)

Winter weather seems to take a toll on everything in nature. I know I feel a bit different in the winter, sometimes a little lethargic, or extra tired, but what about our dogs, do they feel it too?

I started wondering how does winter weather affects our dog’s behavior, and I wasn’t alone in my question. A lot of dog owners wonder about this same thing.

Dogs do not hibernate. Dogs are not in an inactive or dormant state in the winter. Animals such as Bears that hibernate sleep through the winter. They have a lower heart rate, lower body temperature, and low metabolic rate. Dogs do not do these things.

Even though they don’t hibernate like a bear or a groundhog would winter can affect dogs in different ways.

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Do dogs hibernate in cold weather?

Cold weather can affect dogs, but it does not cause them to hibernate. They may become less active and seem more tired than usual this is usually because of the cold weather and shorter days.

Do dogs become less active in winter?

Not all dogs become less active in winter, but cold winter weather can affect some dogs and cause them to slow down and be less active. Older dogs and dogs with arthritis or joint problems can be significantly more affected by the cold winter weather.

Dogs often follow our lead when it comes to what their daily routine holds, so if you are less active in the winter time then chances are your dog will be too.

Chess Dog 300 x 600

If you are able to incorporate fun activiites for you and your dog to do together that will help your dog to

Do dogs sleep more in winter?

With longer nights and shorter days, some dogs tend to sleep more in the winter than in the summer. If your dog is sleeping quite a bit more than normal it’s a good idea to talk to your vet to rule out other possible causes.

How to Keep Your Dog Active in the Winter Time?

If you are concerned about your dog sleeping more in the winter you can do things that help to encourage your dog to stay fit and active.

  • Learn new tricks or commands
  • Get a new and exciting toy
  • Take advantage of it and snuggle by the fire
  • Bundle up and go for a walk
  • Play Hide and Seek
  • Indoor Agility Course
  • Invite a doggy friend over for a play date

Is it normal for dogs to sleep all day in winter?

It is not normal for a dog to sleep all day in the winter time. If your dog is sleeping much more than normal then consult your vet. Your dog may sleep a little more in the winter because of the shorter days, but they should still get the regular amount of exercise that is healthy for their breed.

Do dogs feel the cold in winter?

Dogs do feel the cold in winter. Most dogs adapt by shedding their summer coat and growing a thick winter coat, but even dogs that have thick coats can still feel the cold. Small dogs and dogs with short hair can get cold quickly. Their paws and ears are likely where they will feel it first.

How dogs feel and adapt to the cold depends a lot on the breed of the dog. Some dogs that have thick double coats like Australian Shepherds and Chow Chows were originally bred to be cold weather dogs. They can handle colder temperatures much better than other dogs like Chihuahuas or pugs.

Fun Fact: Dogs with big fluffy tails like Chow Chows will often curl their tails over their nose and face when it’s cold to protect it from frost bite and keep it warm.

Check out our Chow Chow Tail Complete Guide

Learn how shaving your dog’s coat in the summer can affect their protection from the cold in the winter by reading this article: Shaving Your Akita. (When To and When Not to Do It.)

How does cold weather affect dogs?

Cold weather can affect dogs in several ways. Dogs coats will become thicker as the weather turns cold. If a dog is left in the cold for too long it can be dangerous for it. It could get Hypothermia, or frost bite. Older dogs can experiene increased joint stiffness and discomfort in cold temperatures.

Cold dry weather can also dry out your dogs skin and cause it to crack or be painful. You can help to avoid that in your dog by keeping a humidifier (Affiliate Link) on in the winter.

Cold weather has the potential to expose your dog to other dangers such as sippery ice patches that they might slip and fall on, or toxins like salt that is put on sidewalks and roads to mel the ice.

Salt used to melt ice can damage and eat away at the pads on your dogs paws, it can also be toxic if they lick it or eat it. I use these Walky Paws leggings to protect my dogs feet in the winter.

Does Cold Weather Affect Puppies?

Cold weather can be especially dangerous for puppies. Puppies younger than 6 months have not fully developed their coats yet and need extra protection from the elements. They can not withstand extreme temperatures as well as a healthy fully grown adult dog.

If puppies are left in temperatures that are too cold (less than 45-32 degrees) they can develop hypothermia which left untreated can shut down their organs and may be deadly.

Have you ever noticed how puppies all seem to sleep in a giant ball surrounded by each other. Young puppies get their heat and protection from their mothers and littermates. They snuggle close together because it helps the to retain more body heat.

It’s best to keep puppies indoors and out of the elements as well as providing them with comfortable temperatures especially during the winter.

Can dogs get depressed (winter Blues) in the winter?

Yes, similar to humans dogs can get SAD in the winter time. SAD (Seasonal Affective DIsorder) and has been found that up to 1/3 of dogs experience these winter time blues when the weather turns cold.

Symptoms include:

  • Lack of appitite
  • Lethargy (tiredness)
  • Lack of energy
  • Sleeping more
  • Change in behavior

Combat your dogs winter blues: Place your pet’s bed next to a window or under a skylight, and turn up indoor lighting. Try using a light therapy box. Use the light box 20 minutes at a time 3x a day.

Do dogs sleep more in the winter UK

Whether your dogs live in the UK, Untited States or somewhere else all dogs react similarly to winter changes. They tend to sleep more in the winter months when the days are shorter and there is less going on to keep them busy. Sleeping more could also be a sign of SAD (seasonal Affective Dissorder).

Can dogs get sick from being out in the cold?

Yes dogs can get sick from being in temperatures that are too cold. If your dog has been exposed to cold temperatures especially if its not used to it you should watch for signs of Hypothermia or Frost bite.

Your dog may or may not show all or some of these sypmtoms. If you suspect hypothermia please seek immediate medical attention for your dog!

Signs of Hypothermia

  • Shiverying
  • Lack of Cordination
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Low Heart Rate
  • Lack of alertness
  • Pale or Great Gums
  • Fixed and dilated pupils
  • Stupor-like state or collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

How do I know if my dog is cold at night?

  • Shaking or shivering
  • Hunched body postion
  • Tucked tail
  • Whining, crying or barking
  • Change in behaviour, like seeming anxious or uncomfortable
  • Seeks places for shelter
  • Difficulty sleeping

Do dogs need blankets?

If your dog shows signs of being cold at night such as shivering, seeking out shelter or warm spots in your home, or if it is wintertime your dog could benefit from having a warm comfortable blanket.

Can a dog die from being cold?

Yes it is possible for a dog to get so cold that he gets hypothermia and dies. Hypothermia can be very dangerous and can cause your dogs organs to slowly shut down their heart rate will drop and eventually stop beating altogether resulting in death!