Chihuahuas may not be fans of chilly weather and can easily catch a cold during winter nights. This breed is particularly sensitive to the cold and can experience health issues when temperatures drop. In this guide, I’ll provide you with all the information you need to keep your Chihuahua warm during the winter months. I’ll share tips on how to ensure your furry companion remains safe, healthy, and comfortable.
Why Chihuahuas Struggle in Cold Weather
You might be wondering if Chihuahuas actually get cold. The answer is yes, they do. Their brachycephalic (short-faced) nature makes them more susceptible to lower temperatures. Additionally, their short coats provide less protection against the cold compared to long-haired dogs. Chihuahuas are not bred to be outdoor dogs, and they can easily become dehydrated or suffer from hypothermia in extremely cold temperatures. Therefore, it’s crucial to take extra care of Chihuahuas during winter.
Chihuahuas can be highly sensitive to snow and cold weather. (Image via pixabay.com)
Signs Your Chihuahua is Feeling Cold
There are certain signs to look out for that indicate your Chihuahua is feeling cold:
- Your dog refuses to go outside.
- Your dog attempts to make a warm nest, such as by pulling at blankets or burrowing in bed.
- Your dog shivers.
- Your dog appears lethargic.
- Your dog lifts their paws off the ground when outside.
- Your dog barks or whines.
During extremely cold weather, Chihuahuas can even experience frostbite or hypothermia. Hypothermia can be life-threatening, leading to a lack of blood circulation, weak muscles, slowed heart rate, and potential kidney failure.
Signs of Hypothermia:
If your Chihuahua displays any of the following symptoms, it may indicate hypothermia:
- Shivering and trembling.
- Slowing down, difficulty walking, or reduced movement.
- Cold skin and fur.
- Slowed heart rate.
- Dilated pupils (not to be confused with red eye).
- Blue or pale gums and inner eyelids.
- Breathing problems.
While these symptoms may sound serious, with proper care in cold winter months, there is nothing to worry about. However, even with adequate care, your Chihuahua may still develop milder symptoms, such as catching a cold. Keep reading to find out more about the symptoms of a canine cold.
How Cold is Too Cold for a Chihuahua?
There is a temperature threshold beyond which winter becomes too cold for Chihuahuas. Typically, temperatures below 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) pose a danger to these small canines. This risk increases when combined with wet weather, or for older dogs and puppies.
One easy way to determine if it’s too cold for your Chihuahua is to observe whether they lift their paws off the ground. If they do, it’s a clear sign that it’s already too cold. To ensure you’re aware of the ideal temperature range, refer to the infographic below:
This infographic is based on the Tufts Animal Care and Conditions scale. Feel free to use it on your website while giving credit to Doggysaurus.com.
When the temperature falls into the green and blue ranges on the infographic, it’s time to take extra precautions as your Chihuahua’s health could be at risk.
Tips for Keeping Your Chihuahua Warm in Cold Weather
To ensure your Chihuahua remains warm and comfortable when temperatures drop, follow these tips:
1. Prioritize Winter Health Checks
Cold weather can have a greater impact on older dogs and puppies. It can exacerbate existing health conditions and make them more susceptible to illnesses. Schedule a health check-up for your Chihuahua before the winter season begins. This allows the vet to identify any underlying issues that may worsen in colder temperatures.
2. Evaluate Their Bedding and Sleeping Arrangements
During nighttime, temperatures drop even lower, making it crucial to consider your Chihuahua’s sleeping arrangements. Make sure their bed is located away from drafts or cold rooms. If necessary, move their bed to a warmer spot in your home. Additionally, provide extra bedding and blankets to help your Chihuahua build a warm nest. However, be cautious not to overheat them, as excessive warmth can also be detrimental.
Chihuahuas can get cold, but you can assist with clothing, extra bedding, and blankets. (Image licensed via Storyblocks.com)
3. Control Their Diet in Winter
Due to the lower temperatures and reduced outdoor activity, it’s common for dogs to get less exercise during winter. Adjust your Chihuahua’s diet accordingly to prevent weight gain. While providing slightly more food can help maintain their energy levels, be mindful of giving them excessive amounts.
4. Ensure Drinking Water is Not Too Cold
Cold water can make your dog ill, especially if they are already experiencing cold symptoms or a sore throat. Regularly check the temperature of your Chihuahua’s drinking water. If you leave water outside, take measures to prevent it from freezing. Additionally, consider using tepid water from inside your home if the tap water is too cold.
5. Use Common Sense When Taking Your Chihuahua for Walks
While your Chihuahua may be eager to go outside, use your judgment and avoid taking them for walks when it’s too cold. Engage them in indoor activities to expend energy instead. For instance, playing with a laser pen indoors can provide exercise and prevent the need for outdoor walks in freezing temperatures.
6. Employ Indoor Potty Training Pads
When it’s too cold for your Chihuahua to go outdoors for bathroom breaks, use potty training pads as a solution. These pads can be placed indoors and are suitable for Chihuahuas of any age. You can find them easily on Amazon or at pet stores.
7. Always Use ID Collars and Microchips
Winter poses additional risks for dogs getting lost. The combination of dark evenings and their unfamiliarity with icy outdoor conditions often leads to wandering. Whenever you take your Chihuahua for a walk, ensure they wear a collar with identification tags and have a microchip implanted. These identification measures can help reunite you with your pet in case they get lost.
8. Invest in Winter Jackets
In recent years, the market has seen an influx of Chihuahua accessories and clothing lines. While some may appear gimmicky, they are essential for keeping your Chihuahua warm during winter walks and protecting their paws. Consider purchasing a winter jacket specifically designed for Chihuahuas.
Recommended Winter Jackets:
- Canada Pooch dog parka jacket: This particular jacket has a luxurious Sherpa lining to keep your Chihuahua warm. It even features cargo pockets for storing small treats.
- Gooby padded winter coat: Known for its warmth and high ratings, this coat offers water resistance, easy-to-use zipper, and a snug fit—perfect for Chihuahuas.
- Didog reflective winter coat: This jacket comes with reflective material, improving visibility during dark winter nights. It matches the Gooby in warmth and is a matter of personal preference.
9. Protect Their Paws
Pay attention to your Chihuahua’s paws during winter months as they are highly susceptible to injuries and discomfort. Using winter boots for dogs can mitigate these risks. Check out this recommended option on Amazon.
10. Trim Nails to Prevent Slipping
Keeping your Chihuahua’s nails at an appropriate length is essential year-round. In winter, it becomes even more crucial as longer nails provide less traction on slippery surfaces. Regular nail trimming lowers the risk of skidding and potential injuries.
11. Avoid Street Salt and Chemicals
Salt and chemicals used to prevent slipping on icy roads and pavements can be harsh on your Chihuahua’s paws. These substances may cause pain and, in some cases, chemical burns. Ensure your Chihuahua wears adequate paw protection or avoid areas where such substances are used.
12. Discourage Eating Snow
Although Chihuahuas may find snow exciting, eating it can be harmful. Snow may be contaminated with urine, feces, or chemicals. Prevent your Chihuahua from consuming snow to avoid possible illnesses during the cold weather season.
13. Prevent Dampness
Dampness combined with cold temperatures poses a significant risk to your Chihuahua’s health. After walks or playtime in the snow, thoroughly towel dry your dog or use a hairdryer on a low setting if they are comfortable with it. Remove any accumulated snow from their fur and paws to prevent them from getting wet in their bedding.
14. Never Leave Your Chihuahua in a Cold Car
Cars can be just as dangerous for dogs during winter as they are in hot weather. Cold temperatures inside a vehicle can be fatal, so refrain from leaving your Chihuahua unattended in your car or truck.
15. Ensure a Warm Place to Sleep
At night, when temperatures drop further, it’s important to provide your Chihuahua with a warm place to sleep. Consider the following tips:
- Place their bed away from drafts and cold rooms.
- Utilize a warm (but not hot) water bottle.
- Provide a raised bed to keep them off the cold floor.
- Consider letting them sleep with you in your bed.
- Add extra blankets to their bed.
- Arrange the bedding in a doughnut-shaped ring to help them retain warmth.
- Avoid positioning their bed too close to radiators or heating sources.
Recognizing Chihuahua Cold Symptoms
Chihuahuas can develop colds, especially during winter. The initial signs might be occasional sniffles and sneezes, similar to those experienced by humans. However, if left unattended, these symptoms can escalate into more severe illnesses. Chihuahuas, as brachycephalic breeds, have smaller cranial cavities, making them prone to mucus congestion. This congestion can progress to serious conditions such as dehydration, hypothermia, or pneumonia. Therefore, it’s crucial to identify cold and flu symptoms in your Chihuahua before they worsen.
Common Chihuahua Cold Symptoms:
In most cases, occasional sniffles or a slightly wetter nose are not cause for concern. However, consistent coughing is a red flag and should prompt immediate vet attention, as it may signal a chest infection. You can conduct a simple check by placing your ear against your Chihuahua’s chest. A clear sound is normal, but rattling or gurgling noises indicate possible cold and mucus accumulation.
While some dog owners try to treat their Chihuahua’s cold without professional help, it is not recommended. However, if you choose to do so, you can use a canine nebulizer to alleviate cold symptoms. Consult your vet for more information on this treatment option.
Tips for Treating a Chihuahua with a Cold
If you suspect your Chihuahua has a cold, consider the following tips. Please note that these are not substitutes for professional veterinary advice, but they may provide relief to your pet:
- Encourage fluid intake to prevent dehydration. For dogs reluctant to drink, try adding chicken broth to their water bowl.
- Add extra nutrition to their food by incorporating boiled chicken with brown rice or other nutrient-rich ingredients.
- Consider using dietary supplements such as coconut oil, cinnamon, or honey. These natural remedies can boost the immune system and act as cough suppressants.
- Limit outdoor time and prioritize rest to conserve energy and aid recovery.
- Provide love and affection, as emotional support plays a key role in recovery.
- Use a hot water bottle, ensuring the temperature is warm but not too hot, to help raise your Chihuahua’s body temperature in their bed.
- Explore the option of a dog nebulizer, which can help with respiratory issues.
- Utilize a steam vaporizer close to their bed to alleviate congestion and help them breathe more easily.
- Apply dog nose butter or balm to prevent or treat cracked and dry noses caused by the cold weather. Check out this recommended product on Amazon.
- Contact your vet if your Chihuahua starts coughing, refuses to drink, displays signs of constant pain, or exhibits rattling sounds in their chest.
Always consult a veterinarian if you have concerns about your Chihuahua’s health. They can provide appropriate guidance and prescribe antibiotics or other necessary treatments to address cold-related issues.
It’s important to be aware of and address the unique challenges that Chihuahuas face during cold weather. These small dogs require extra care and attention to stay warm and healthy in winter conditions. Remember to prioritize their comfort, modify their sleeping arrangements, prevent exposure to extreme cold, and be proactive in recognizing and treating any cold symptoms they may experience. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your beloved Chihuahua remains cozy throughout the winter season.
Liked this article? Check out other helpful guides on caring for your Chihuahua on our website.
Header image via pixabay.com.