Why are My Dog’s Ears Cold?

Why are My Dog’s Ears Cold? Causes and Solutions

A pat on your dog’s head and you realize that your pup’s ears are unusually cold – that’s always worrisome! 

And it’s okay to be bothered. Cold ears are enough to get any loving dog owner worried.

That said, there’s no direct answer to the question, “Why are my dog’s ears cold?” There are tons of reasons why your puppy’s ears could get cold. And while there might be no cause for alarm, it could be a serious health issue. Our dog’s ears serve as an indicator of their health, so it is key to understand what cold ears mean.

In this article, we put together the reasons why your dog’s ears are cold, what could’ve caused it, and what you can do about it.

What cold ears mean?
Image by gautherottiphaine from Pixabay

But first, what could make your pup’s ears change the temperature?

Why Dogs’ Ears Change Temperature?

Dogs’ ears have several blood vessels, and their blood circulation mostly determines their temperature. Their ears are a heat-sensitive area that varies depending on various factors. These factors include the amount of hair on their ears and its ambient temperature. 

Dogs’ ears are typically at a lower temperature than every other part of their body. Nevertheless, this doesn’t imply that they have a health problem. So, is it okay if your dog’s ears are cold and pale?

A dog’s ears get cold for several reasons. Although the most obvious reason is because of cold weather, there are other reasons to consider. 

Causes of Cold Ears in Dogs

“What cold ears mean?” “Is my dog sick?” “Why are my dog’s ears cold but body warm?”

Let’s find out!

Cold Weather. This is the most likely reason why your dog’s ears are cold. Sometimes, a dog’s ears are simply cold due to cold weather. Just like humans, dogs too can experience temperature changes.

Dogs’ ears aren’t so different from humans in several areas. Just like humans, they are made of cartilage. But unlike most of the body parts, only a few blood vessels move up to the ear. 

When your pooch begins to bundle up to get away from the snow or cold wind, you can tell the cold is setting in. However, they might not show display behavior – and that’s where the problem lies.

So, when your pet goes outside when it’s cold to do their business, the priority isn’t in their ear. The effect is that your dog’s ears cold pretty quickly. How do I keep my dog’s ears warm? Before we answer that, there some things to keep in mind.

Dogs ears are cold and pale.
Image by Lars_Nissen from Pixabay

Cold Weather Hits Different Dogs Differently 

It is crucial to keep in mind that temperature hits different dogs in very different ways. Dogs whose coats are thick have more chances to withstand cold weather better than other breeds. 

Meanwhile, short-haired dogs have more tendency of getting cold pretty fast than the others. It’s the same situation with senior dogs and little puppies. Senior dogs are usually vulnerable to cold weather since they can’t regulate their body temperature. However, they are more likely to resist extremely cold weather than smaller dog breeds. 

Senior dogs‘ body fats are typically lower compare to other dogs. That is so because they do not have as much insulation as other dogs, and cold temperature causes joints problems. So, if you own a senior dog, you should take caution when taking your pet for a walk.

Smaller dogs also have a strong tendency to get cold very fast. Their tiny body means that they have lesser body heat than their larger counterparts. When going for a walk outside, you should wear your pup a sweater.

Finally, some dog breeds have perky ears. They include German Shephard, Corgi, and the Siberian Husky. These dogs have elegant erect ears which instantly perk up when they are fired up. However, as adorable as they are, these perky ears are more exposed to the cold wind than the flop-down-ear dog breeds. 

Why are my dog’s ears cold? Have you forgotten your pup’s ear is as thin as a piece of paper? Of course, you haven’t.

Causes of Cold Temperatures in Dogs 

Always keep in mind that a lower temperature might also imply health issues, which may be as a result of the following:

  • Wet skin or fur
  • Walking in the cold
  • Cold air stream 
  • Low ambient temperature 
  • Snows when they go outside 
  • Sleeping outside during winter 
  • Prolonged anesthesia 
  • Hypotension (caused by allergic reactions, drugs, food poisoning, etc.)
  • Hypothyroidism reducing the ability to thermoregulate and metabolism 
  • Concussion 
  • Hypovolemic shock as a result of internal bleeding, surgery, trauma, blood loss, etc. 

That said, it shows that there are different reasons/possible answers to “why are my dog’s ears cold?” Some reasons are more serious than others, but those in extreme cases would have needed the vet. For instance, if your pup just had surgery, you can expect to pat cold ears.

Furthermore, dogs that are more likely to experience hypothermia are small dog breeds, puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a little fur. They are more vulnerable because of their inability to thermoregulate their body efficiently. Sometimes they get cold because they can’t properly cover themselves from cold weather. 

Symptoms of Cold Ears and Hypothermia in Dogs 

One of the initial symptoms of hyperthermia in pups is cold ears. Now you know what cold ears mean in dogs. When your dog’s ears are cold and pale, it could be a sign of hypothermia. But no cause for alarm yet. Here are other signs that could scream hypothermia:

  • Dry Skin
  • Cramps 
  • Tremors
  • Drowsiness 
  • Lethargy 
  • Slow movements 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Slow breathing (Bradypnea)
  • Clumsiness 

Therefore, before concluding that your dog has developed hypothermia, be sure to check for the above symptoms also. 

However, if you notice more than one of these symptoms, you must seek the intervention of an expert. If not, hypothermia could progress and cause damage to your pet’s health. Generally, when a dog starts developing hypothermia, their glucose level begins to drop as they are spent on regulating their body temperature. 

Dogs with severe hypothermia will begin to develop the following symptoms:

  • Anorexia 
  • Depression 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
  • Anorexia 
  • Fainting 
  • Stare 
  • Hypoglycemia 
  • Mydriasis (dilated pupils)
  • Sudden death
  • Collapse 
How do I keep my dog's ears warm?
Image by Mylene2401 from Pixabay

How do I Keep My Dog’s Ears Warm? 

First, are dog’s ears supposed to be warm? Yes – that’s a great sign of a healthy, happy pup!

While a dog could easily get cold ears from going out to do their business in the cold, cold ears could also indicate some medical conditions and pathologies. As dogs’ temperature drops, so do their heart rate and blood pressure. 

That might result in poor circulation, arrhythmias, and potentially cardiac arrest. Blood oxygen levels will reduce, metabolism slows down, and might lead to MODS (multi-organ dysfunction syndrome).

All that sad details aside! 

There’s a lot of answers to “why are my dog’s ears cold but body warm?” Here’s what we can do when our dog’s ears become unusually cold:

  • Keep a convenient environment to increase the temperature gradually, with heating, electrical appliances, or lamps. 
  • If your four-legged best friend is wet, dry them up immediately.
  • Avoid trying to increase your pet’s body temperature rapidly by any means. This will result in their body going into shock.
  • If your pup is cold, you can try to take the dog out when the day is warm. Also, avoid having your pet sleeping outside. 
  • Shelter your dog with coats and blankets. If you own a smaller dog, that makes the job easy. All you have to do is take them under your arm to share some body heat. 
  • You can also give your dog glucose to reverse or prevent hypoglycemia 
  • A veterinarian can administer warm enemas or administer fluid therapies 

Ideally, you should take your dog to the vet before any of the above chronic symptoms appear. Alternatively, if your pooch turned cold, you can temperature-reading yourself. If their temperature is pretty low, you’ll have to take them to the vet. 

Since most of these problems are caused by lower temperatures, you should be more careful when seasons change and the temperature drops. Still, never relent to take your pet to the vet at the first sign of hypothermia. 

Signs That Your Dog is Feeling TOO COLD

What if your dog’s ears are cold and pale because they are actually cold?! How can you tell if your dog is in a serious cold? 

Straight answer – pay attention to their situational and behavioral clues. 

To be more specific, here are some of the cues to be on the watch for:

· Trembling or Shivering 

Generally, dogs react to extreme cold as we do. If your pup is trembling or shivering with its tail close to its body while trying to find shelter from the wind, that’s a loud sign of a cold. Shaking, trembling, and shivering are ways that the body reacts to stay warm. 

· Slow Movements 

If your dog appears not to be having a great time outside – maybe your pup is dull and not playful as usual – you should consider taking the dog indoors. The most common behavior, in this case, is for the dog to keep her tail close to her body while hunched over. Also, if your dog is trying to hide under or behind something during a walk, she’s likely trying to take shelter from the snow, rain, or cold winds. 

· Cold Body or Ears 

Touching your pet’s ears is an excellent way to know her temperature. If your pup’s ears feel cold, especially the edges, it might be best to take her inside and cover her properly with a blanket or a coat. You can as well feel their body to see if it’s warm or cold. If their body feels cold, your dog has most likely been cold for a long time with no way to tell you. 

· Curling Up

If your four-legged friend is curled up into a ball or hunched over with her tail tucked in while she’s shivering, it’s an attempt to warm herself up. You have to do something about it! So, if your dog is curled up in that way, there’s no need to wonder – why are my dog’s ears cold? A blanket is the closest solution.

· Limping or Walking Gingerly 

If your dog is limping along or walking gingerly through the snow or rain, it’s a red flag that her paws are pretty much frozen. Not exactly frozen, but better safe than sorry – right?

· Is it Cold Outside?

Perhaps this should be your first observation. Whether your dog has been inside all day or not, the first thing to check is how cold it is outside. If it is too cold for you to be outside, it is definitely too cold to have your dog outside, except to do their business, of course. Regardless of how thick your dog’s coat is, you don’t want them outside when it’s too cold. 

Are dogs ears supposed to be warm?
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Can You Tell Your Dog’s Internal Temperature from Their Ears?

Since dogs’ ears are one of their extremities, they are more prone to changes in weather temperatures. For that, they can’t serve as indicators for the temperature of their whole-body temperature. You also can’t tell if they are suffering from hyperthermia or hypothermia. 

The best way to accurately check your dog’s body temperature is by inserting a thermometer into the dog’s rectal mucosa. 

An adult dog’s normal body temperature is around is 38º and 39º C (100.4ºF – 102.2ºF). If their temperature goes below 35º C (95ºF), that’s a sign of hypothermia. 

Hypothermia is also present if their body temperature goes below 32º C (89.6ºF). Also, if their temperature goes below 28ºC (82.4 ºF), that’s a serious problem. A situation like that means that they are in grave danger, and it can be extremely difficult to return them to the normal temperature. 

Likewise, extremely cold temperatures can also heighten the risk of developing specific infections, including Kennel Cough as well as other respiratory diseases.

Final Thoughts 

While there are tons of dangers underlined in cold ears, there is usually no cause for concern. It rarely results in a medical issue. Your pup could simply be reacting to the cold weather. 

So, questions like “why are my dog’s ears cold but body warm?” we can easily tell it’s from a loving owner.

Nonetheless, you should always keep the good work and love. Get your pooch a warm and cozy blanket and cuddle them when they have cold ears. If the symptoms persist – as they say – see the doc (or vet in this case). 

Still, what do cold ears mean? More hugs! 

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