When it comes to cuddling, rubbing the dog’s ear is a go-to for most dog lovers. It seems to be putting the dogs in doggy heaven for a few seconds.
But, wait, what if you noticed that your dog’s ears are colder than usual? Should you be concerned?
Cold dog ears generally mean that your dog’s body temperature is low. If your dog has been staying outside, move them to a warm indoor place. If their ears are cold while in a warm environment, it could also indicate an underlying illness or circulatory issues.
Usually, cold ears due to an illness is less common. But still, it’s good to know when that could be the case.
Let’s explore in detail what cold dog ears could mean, when exactly you should worry, and what you can do about it.
Dogs have a slightly elevated body temperature. The body temperature of a healthy dog lies between 99°F to 102°F.
That means that your dog’s ears should be warm to the touch.
However, this is not always the case. For instance, the ears may feel a lot colder if the dog was just outside on a snowy day or has wet fur or skin.
If your dog has been in a cold environment, it can take some time before their body gets the temperature back up again.
At the same time, ears that are too hot to the touch are also not ideal.
In that case, the dog could be having a fever. The only way to be sure is to take the dog’s temperature.
Noticeably cold ears in dogs can point to a few problems. But, of course, it could also be nothing, so don’t automatically assume the worst.
Usually, the main culprits for cold ears are weather, circulatory issues, and sometimes (although rarely) underlying illness.
Here is a more detailed explanation of how each of these factors affects dogs.
There is no hiding from the biting cold of the winter.
Although dogs are naturally hotter than humans, they are not immune to cold weather.
Some dog breeds, though, can handle cold temperatures better than others. Generally, breeds with thick furs, like Huskies or Chow Chows, tolerate cold better than short-haired breeds, like Dachsunds and Greyhounds.
Senior dogs, puppies may also struggle with cold weather. This is because they have less fat to insulate them freezing temperatures.
Likewise, smaller breeds also get colder faster since the surface area to volume ratio causes rapid heat loss.
Whatever the breed, the ears will undoubtedly be one of the first places to feel the cold because they aren’t part of the main body.
Cold ears could be an early sign of a circulatory complication.
It is the circulatory system that pumps blood to all parts of the body.
At the core of that system is the heart that keeps blood flowing back and forth. The same heart also supplies heat to the further extremities of the dog’s body.
According to the ASPCA, an average dog has 60-120 bpm. The larger the dog, the higher the pulse rate.
Unfortunately, their hearts begin to slow down with age.
A weaker cardiovascular system means the heart can no longer pump blood far enough. As a result, extremities such as the ear or the tail may not get enough heat.
Some health conditions may also be the cause of cold ears.
For example, hypothyroidism reduces the dog’s metabolism, making it harder for the dog to regulate their temperature.
Other conditions that can cause cold ears may include:
You should always try to make your dog comfortable, warm, and cozy. It doesn’t matter whether the cold ears are due to cold weather or an illness.
Here are some things you can do to help a dog with cold ears (and cold temperature in general).
During cold weather, it is best to keep your dog indoors most of the time, as exposure to cold conditions for an extended period may cause serious complications.
In addition, the dog is much safer indoors where they can enjoy the magic of AC.
This might be tricky if you have an active dog. However, you can schedule regular, very short walks to let them stretch their legs and burn calories.
Cold weather is here to stay unless you move to a warmer climate.
Keeping the dog indoors is one way to keep them warm. However, it is impractical and probably unhealthy to remain inactive.
Most dogs won’t handle house arrest well, but you can still have as much fun in winter if you invest in warm clothing and protective gear.
You can buy clothing that offers cold protection to different body parts.
For example, ear warmers are good enough to protect the ears. But, complete protection requires cold-weather coats, sweaters, and booties.
You can find a variety of different winter clothing items for your dog here.
The body tries to maintain a temperature balance with the ambient conditions.
During the day, most dogs are active and generate a lot of heat. However, heat generation drops at night, forcing the dog to conserve their body heat.
Therefore, heat retention may be impossible if the dog sleeps outside in a kennel in the winter.
Letting the dog sleep indoors in a heated space should solve weather-related cold ears. At least during the night and early morning.
However, this may not be enough to do the trick. Consider moving the dog bed to the warmest corner of the house.
If that’s still not enough, the quality of the bedding could be a factor. For maximum insulation, invest in a dog bed with fabric that retains heat, like this Besure Calming Dog Bed, which my own dog uses and loves.
You can safely rule out the weather if your dog’s ears are very cold in the summer heat or when you are in an air-conditioned car or house in the winter.
Sadly, as I stated earlier, several health issues can cause the dog’s ears to be unusually cold.
A vet should be able to rule out health conditions, and in case your dog has one, advise you on the next steps.
Always remember: when in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult a professional vet.