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Key Points
  • Some dogs, including brachycephalic breeds, can have more trouble breathing in hot weather.
  • When dogs are too hot, handling by strangers may be less welcome.
  • You can help your dog adjust and stay comfortable when seasons change.
West Highland White Terrier laying in the grass.

Have you ever noticed that your dog’s mood shifts with the weather? Storms, heat, cold, and the changing seasons affect our dogs, just like they affect us. Most dogs can even sense when the weather is about to change. Understanding the impact of weather changes on your dog can help you prepare your canine companion for the forecast ahead.

Changing Seasons

When the temperature heats up, some dogs rejoice, while others seek out cool, shady spots where they can rest. Though all dogs can be susceptible to hot weather hazards, certain dog breeds are less heat tolerant than others. Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers, do best when staying cool in hot weather because they can have difficulty breathing in extreme heat. Large breeds are also susceptible to heat, as are longhaired breeds like the Komondor, Afghan Hound, and Alaskan Malamute. If you own a breed like these, you may find that your dog is not as active in hot weather or as willing to engage in play and other activities.

Some dogs may even get snappish in very hot weather and may want more space and less petting. A group of researchers in Beijing, China found that the frequency of emergency room visits for dog bites in a major hospital increased when temperatures were highest. In very hot weather, you may want to minimize interactions between your dog and strangers, including children.

Colder climates, on the other hand, are where Northern breeds like American Eskimo Dogs, Samoyeds, and Siberian Huskies thrive. Longhaired or double-coated breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, Saint BernardsGreat Pyrenees, and Newfoundlands typically enjoy cooler weather, too. They often become more active and playful during the winter months, unlike cold-intolerant breeds such as Italian Greyhounds, Greyhounds, hairless breeds, toy breeds, senior dogs, and dogs with conditions such as hypothyroidism,  Cushing’s disease, or arthritis.

Spanish Water Dog laying down on a boardwalk.

Relocating to a New Climate

Seasons usually change gradually, giving your dog time to adjust. Relocating to an entirely new climate, however, can cause sudden shifts in your pup’s mood. Depending on your dog’s breed, you may notice that he becomes more or less active, and some dogs even show signs of irritation if the weather makes them too uncomfortable.

A move to a cold climate can be shocking for dogs that are not used to chilly temperatures. Some pups seek out warm places, like heating vents, blankets, or your bed, and you might notice your canine companion becoming cuddlier in the cold.

Whether it’s hot or cold, understanding the cause of your dog’s sudden lethargy or increased activity level can help you determine if his change in mood is circumstantial or medical. Lethargy is a common symptom of many illnesses and should be taken seriously, so make sure your dog is not exhibiting any other abnormal signs. If he is, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Helping Your Dog Adjust

If your dog gets grumpy in the heat, don’t worry. There are things you can do to make him more comfortable and lower his risk of heat stroke.

  • Avoid taking your dog for walks during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Make sure he has plenty of fresh water and shade available at all times.
  • Raised canvas platform dog beds offer a cooling alternative to traditional beds, and you can even invest in cooling mats or kiddie pools for particularly heat-intolerant dogs.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, adjust a fan so that your dog has access to a nice, cool breeze.
  • Never leave a dog unattended in an enclosed vehicle or in a warm environment that does not have good air circulation.
  • Beware of walking your dog over hot sidewalks, streets, sand, or other hot surfaces.
  • Although swimming is a great way to get exercise on a hot day, and most dogs can swim, never leave your dog unsupervised around a pool or in any body of water.

You can also help your dog acclimate to the cold. Put a limit on outdoor time, and be sure to clean the salt and ice balls off of your dog’s paws when you come inside. Depending on your dog’s coat type, you might also want to dress him in something warm. After all, who doesn’t love a pup in a sweater? With so many dog sweaters, jackets, raincoats, and booties to choose from, keeping your dog warm is easier than ever. However, it’s important to note that you should never leave an item of clothing on an unsupervised dog. And anything you do put on your canine companion should fit properly (not too tight or too loose).

Related article: Do Dogs Sweat?
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