With wintertime upon us, you may be thinking of getting outdoors anyway, skiing, skating or perhaps snowboarding. Dressing in layers is necessary for keeping warm for outdoor activities especially since humans have no fur to keep us toasty and dry.
Many dogs have their own “fur coats;” the Alaskan malamute, Siberian husky, Newfoundland and Saint Bernard come to mind. What about whippets and their fur coat? A whippet’s fur coat, unfortunately, cannot be compared to the furry dogs listed above, being short and minimal.
As my Bonnie lies right next to me wrapped in her fluffy pink blanket, I think “no way” when imagining her as a sled dog in the Great Northwest!
Do whippets feel the cold more than other dogs? Yes, they most certainly do and I’m going to fill you in on the reasons why and give you some information on how to keep your little whippet warm and snuggly every day.
Why Whippets Get Very Cold
When learning the history of whippets, you may know that they are sturdier than they look. They are known as the “poor man’s racehorse,” because of their speed.
Whippets have been used for racing and also as hunting or “ratting” dogs. They are a sighthound who excel in locating prey by sight, chasing them down and then “snapping” them up, earning the name of “snap” dogs.
You may be thinking, strong, athletic, agile, outdoorsy and they wouldn’t be a dog that gets cold, but they do and in fact, they can get very chilled.
Whippets are thin dogs and have minimal body fat to insulate them and keep them warm. Add to that a very short coat that is not a double layer like other dogs and this does little to insulate them and avoid them from becoming chilled and shivering.
Whippets do not like getting wet either, so cold, rainy, damp or snowy weather isn’t the least bit appealing to them. Many dogs not only sport a luxurious, double coat but have oils on their outer coat to make it waterproof.
Your poor whippet has none of this going for them. A Siberian husky, known for being a sled dog in sub-zero temperatures, has a very thick double coat, the inner coat for insulation and the outer coat repelling water and for extra warmth.
Whippets do love their exercise, but they are just as happy, especially on a horribly cold and blustery day, to be indoors in a comfy bed or covered up with their favourite blanket right by your side.
Your whippet will definitely get cold in brisk weather and even in air conditioning in summer. They do much better and are far happier in warmer weather.
Another problem that can exacerbate the cold feelings they already experience is hypothyroidism. Whippets are a breed that is prone to hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition where your pup’s thyroid gland is not working properly and it does not make enough thyroid hormone.
Without enough of this hormone, it can put your whippet’s whole system out of whack, causing hair loss, dry coat and skin, behavioural changes and a constant feeling of cold with shivering.
Replacing that hormone with the proper dosage of levothyroxine is necessary to regulate their thyroid.
Why Whippets Are Indoor Dogs
Even though you see your whippet running, being all rough and tumble outdoors, a whippet is not suited for being kept outside. They are not a breed that would do well physically or psychologically living outdoors.
A whippet is a gentle, loving and affectionate dog who bonds completely with their family and loves to be with them, at times even becoming their “shadow.”
They are not a breed that would do well outside, alone in a kennel. They sometimes develop separation anxiety when left alone.
Physically, your whippet can acclimate to warm weather rather than cold, but living in an area where temperatures and humidity can climb to produce heatwave records, they, as any dog or human, are susceptible to heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
On the other side of the coin, whippets cannot tolerate the cold. They get cold very easily and do not like cold hard surfaces.
Even though they were bred to hunt as other hounds, they were not built for outdoor living in a dog house or dog run with a cold cement floor.
They simply are not built physically for outdoor living, having no extra insulation or body fat for warmth. It would be very cruel to keep your whippet anywhere but indoors. They are an indoor family member just as you are.
Effects of Cold Weather On Your Whippet
Whippets just do not like the cold or being cold. It can affect them in many ways, some you can see, and some are not as evident.
Body Temperature Irregularities and Metabolism
The cold can affect your whippet’s metabolism. Their metabolism includes all of the processes that occur in their body to keep normal organ function in tip-top shape.
This includes digestion, breathing and cell repair, to name a few. Low body temperature can cause blood pressure change, low oxygen from heart irregularities, can slow digestion and cause infections by suppressing your pup’s immune system.
Your whippet may shiver uncontrollably if they become too cold and put them at risk for hypothermia.
Your whippet may need more calories when the weather turns cold to bump up their metabolism. It takes calories to regulate and keep your whippet’s body temperature in the normal range.
If they are also running around the house and playing they will burn more calories. If you see that they are losing weight, give them a little extra food or some additional healthy snacks.
Falls and Poisoning
Two reasons ice and snow can be dangerous to your whippet are the slip effect and the use of salt or ice melt. Your whippet can take a spill on the ice with those spindly legs and suffer a fracture or sprain.
Take your whippet out to a place you have cleared so it isn’t slippery for them or you.
If you use salt or ice melt, clean off your pup’s paws and stomach when back indoors. They may lick their paws because of the salty taste and this salt is toxic when ingested, and also can be a skin irritant.
If your whippet is older and suffers from arthritis or joint problems be aware that the cold may cause them more pain and stiffness. Perhaps an orthopaedic bed or any medications that your veterinarian suggests will ease their pain.
Never leave your whippet off-leash in the cold, snowy weather. If they should run off on a chase they may become disoriented in snow and wouldn’t be able to smell and sniff their way back because of snow cover.
How To Prevent Your Whippet Being Cold
Below are some tips as to how to keep your whippet warm, dry and comfortable.
- Your whippet is not an outdoor dog, but an indoor dog. Please do not keep them outdoors anytime.
- Limit exercise outdoors when the weather is cold. Make it short but sweet and pick times that are sunny, if possible. Play some games indoors if the weather is truly bad.
- Do not leave your whippet off-leash in bad weather. There is a risk of them becoming lost and suffering from hypothermia.
- Do invest in a warm sweater or jacket for your whippet. A waterproof jacket is an excellent idea as well for rainy days or on top of their sweater to keep them warm and dry. I think they may like a whole wardrobe of outdoor clothes. I know Bonnie would!
- If you can find them, dog boots are also a great idea. They will keep your pup’s poor little paws warm and dry and free from clinging salt.
- Even though your whippet cuddles on the couch and may even sleep in your bed, they should have a nice warm bed of their own complete with a nice fluffy blanket. Place it in a warm, draft-free area. Heated beds for dogs are also available to keep them nice and toasty on winter days.
- If you live in a climate where it is just too cold to go out, forgo outdoor bathroom visits if it’s possible. Find an area in the basement or garage and use puppy pads for the time being.
- Never leave your whippet in the car in cold weather even if you think it will be just for a minute. Life happens and their body temperature can drop quickly if you get side-tracked.
So, do whippets feel the cold more than other dogs? Yes, absolutely!
Consider that your whippet is a thin pup with not a huge amount of fur or body fat. They should be kept indoors as a member of your family.
Your pup can’t tell you if they’re cold, so be aware that it’s up to you to recognise the signs mentioned above and keep your whippet warm.
These tips will help you and your whippet get through cold weather as comfortably as possible. By observing your pup’s body language, it will help you understand their needs as they, unfortunately, cannot tell you.
Bonnie has not budged from her blanket but it appears as if she is smiling. She is probably dreaming that now all whippets everywhere will be warm, dry and cosy in their family’s home throughout the winter and beyond.
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Hello. I’m Luke- the founder of WhippetCentral. I’m somewhat of a whippet nut and have been for most of my life. In that time, I’ve owned and raised numerous whippets. Bonnie is my latest girl; she is currently eight years old and keeps me very busy! Understanding the need for whippet-specific content, I decided to create this blog to share what I have learned and to share my expertise regarding owning and raising whippets – the right way!