It’s the dead of winter while we’re writing this and it’s COLD! If things are the same where you are, you may have noticed your dog’s ears feel colder than usual. Is this a bad thing? Should you be doing something to prevent or fix it? Below, we’ll have a look at what you should do if your dog’s ears are cold.
Is it normal for dog ears to be cold?
In short, yes, it’s normal for your dog’s ears to feel cooler than the rest of their body. It can be a sign that something is wrong, but luckily, it usually isn’t.
Think about it: your dog’s ears are quite far away from its core. They’re quite thin, the blood vessels are at the surface, and ears don’t have much in the way of fat for protection. It’s not surprising they’re generally a little below a dog’s normal body temperature of 99.5-102.5 °F. When they’re exposed to the cold, like during a winter walk, their bodies may prioritize keeping their core warm—at the expense of their ears, nose, and paws.
In fact, according to research, the same applies to us humans! After all, humans and dogs are both mammals. If you regularly feel your ears, especially when it’s cold, you’ll notice they can feel quite cool even though you feel fine otherwise. As long as you’re not exposed to very low temps for extended periods of time, it’s no problem.
What causes cold ears in dogs?
So: one of the main causes of cold ears in dogs is a low ambient temperature. That’s logical enough. However, there are a few other more serious possible causes
- Actual hypothermia
- Circulation problems
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Low weight or malnutrition
- Anemia or blood loss
My dog’s ears are cold: Should l be worried?
You know your dog best. If your dog’s ears are cold for a while after a nice walk in the snow, there’s probably no need to worry. You can gently massage them and they’ll warm right back up. The main signs you may need to call your vet are if your dog’s ears are (almost) always cold, and if you’ve noticed other symptoms beyond just the ears.
For example, give the vet’s office a ring if your dog’s ears are cold and:
- Your dog’s temperature is too low or too high
- Your dog is lethargic
- Your dog refuses to eat
- Your dog seems to be in pain
If your dog is very young, very old, or has health issues, you should monitor it extra closely. The same applies to breeds with short coats that don’t carry a lot of fat, like sighthounds, and small breeds like chihuahuas. In cases like these, it’s always a good idea to implement some of the cold ear prevention tips below.
Preventing cold ears
Think your dog’s cold ears may be a sign that your furry friend is feeling a bit chilly? If you’re noticing it shivering, tucking in its tail, and never wanting to leave your side, you may be onto something. No worries, there are loads of things you can do to keep man’s best friend cozy and warm in winter. No need to stop going out for walks or crank up the heating!
Here’s what you can do:
- Provide a comfy bed with some warm blankets
- Consider adding a heat pad
- Go for walks during the warmest part of the day
- Shorten walks
- Bundle them up with a doggie scarf and booties
- Plenty of playtime to warm them up
- Extra snacks
- Tell the groomer to leave their coat a bit longer
Tip: Keeping your dog warm isn’t the only thing you should concern yourself with in winter. For example, did you know that their skin can also suffer? Have a look at our full post on dog winter care for 9 handy tips that’ll help get your furry friend through the coldest months unscathed.
To conclude: cold ears in dogs are normal to a degree. If they warm back up when you’re indoors or your pooch is bundled up, then it was probably just the body’s normal response to lower temperatures. You could consider implementing some measures to keep your furry friend nice and warm.
If your dog’s ears are constantly cold or you’ve noticed other symptoms, it’s usually a good idea to call your veterinarian and ask if you should bring your dog in for a check-up.