Ask a Vet

Keeping your Chihuahua Warm in the Winter: Your One-Stop Guide to Stop Chihuahuas from Getting Cold!

Photo of author
Updated on

Keeping your chihuahua warm in the winter

There is nothing worse than being cold and not being able to get warm, is there? No matter how many hot coffees or teas you drink, the blankets you surround yourself with, you still can’t shake that chilly feeling until the heating is blasting, your socks are toasted, and you are cuddled up. It’s a horrible feeling, isn’t it?

Now imagine how much worse it must be for your dog. Especially your Chihuahua. These small dogs are notorious for hating the cold, and the last thing any of us dog owners want is a shivering and sad pooch, do we?

So what can you do? Well, you can stick with us, for we have the complete guide to keeping your Chihuahua warm in the winter! Stop the shivering, sad dog look now, and get ready to have a toasty dog that will no longer fear the cold!

Do Chihuahuas like the cold?

Like other dogs, and us, Chihuahuas get cold, especially during the winter months. But this brachycephalic breed is more sensitive to lower temperatures, losing its heat quickly, and can even develop breathing problems due to their elongated soft palate. No wonder your Chihuahua doesn’t want to go for a walk in November!

Chihuahuas also have a short coat, providing them with less protection from the cold than long-haired dogs, which certainly does not help their situation. These dogs were not bred to be outdoor dogs and can suffer from dehydration and hypothermia in very low temperatures.

These dogs need special care to get them through these cold winter temperatures without any health complications or discomfort. To help you care for your Chihuahua in these colder temperatures, we will run through the signs, or Chihuahua feels the chill and how you can keep them warm!

How do you know if your Chihuahua is cold?

When it comes to spotting if your Chihuahua is cold, there are some common symptoms that you should look out for. If your Chihuahua has any or a combination of these symptoms, make them warmer as soon as possible. If your Chihuahua is in significant distress or you are concerned for their welfare, you should seek help from your vet.

Below are the most common symptoms a Chihuahua will display if they are cold:

  1. They refuse to go outside
  2. They have the shivers
  3. They seem to be lethargic
  4. They are barking or whining
  5. They lift their paws off the ground when they are outside
  6. They are making a nest, moving blankets, or burrowing in bed, for example.

In freezing weather, your Chihuahua can get frostbite and hypothermia! Hypothermia is a fatal condition where the blood no longer circulates your dog’s body; they become weak, have stiff muscles, their heartbeat slows, and their kidneys fail. In these cases, you must seek professional help immediately to ensure your dog’s survival.

Below are the most common symptoms of hypothermia in Chihuahuas that you should look out for:

  1. Shivering and trembling
  2. Slowing down, a lack of movement or trouble waking
  3. Breathing problems
  4. Dilated pupils (be careful not to mix this up with red-eye)
  5. Cold skin and fur
  6. Slowed heart rate
  7. Blue or pale gums and inner eyelids

Now, we know this all sounds very scary, and you have that sudden urge to wrap your Chihuahua up in hundreds of blankets and never let them move, but don’t panic! Providing you care for your Chihuahua properly during the winter months, you don’t need to worry!

Despite our best care, though, sometimes your Chihuahua will develop milder or less severe symptoms. Your Chihuahua can even catch a cold! Don’t worry; we cover the cold symptoms and treatments, later on, so you will be well prepared!

What temperature is too cold for a Chihuahua?

After reading all those scary symptoms, you might be wondering just how cold is too cold for my Chihuahua? The last thing you want to do is inflict your Chihuahua to too cold temperatures and cause them to be unwell!

The temperature you need to avoid is 4 degrees Celsius or 40 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures or colder will be too cold for your Chihuahua and cause them to become unwell and puts them at a higher risk of catching hypothermia. If there is wet weather or your dog is a small puppy or old, then these dangers are increased.

It’s best to check the temperature outside before letting your Chihuahua out or taking them for a walk. Weather apps can be helpful here, as well as thermometers. Still, if you don’t have these to hand, your Chihuahua will be an excellent indicator if they lift their paws off the ground, then it is too cold for them, and they should be taken inside and warmed up immediately.

We don’t recommend this method, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Keeping a close eye on the weather and changing temperatures is the best way to ensure that your Chihuahua isn’t outside when it is too cold for them.

How to keep Chihuahuas warm in cold weather

Now that we have covered the symptoms of cold Chihuahuas and what temperatures to avoid your Chihuahuas being outside, let’s look at some of the ways you can keep your Chihuahua warm in the winter. We have thought of everything, so you don’t need to!

Remember to check with a vet if you have any concerns about implementing these methods yourself. If your Chihuahua has any existing health conditions, then it might be worth speaking to a professional for some advice and guidance that is catered to them.

Health Check

When the temperatures start to drop, and we head into winter, we recommend taking your Chihuahua to the vets for a health check. The general check-up will flag up any potential health concerns that need to be addressed or exacerbated by the cold.

It’s a good idea to do this for all Chihuahuas, especially older dogs or small puppies, as these are the most vulnerable to the cold weather and health conditions that come with it.

Bed location and bedding

During the night, temperatures can drop low, especially in the winter, and your Chihuahua is likely to be at its coldest. Thankfully there are some handy tricks you can adopt to keep them warm.

The first is to consider where their bed is and move it if needed. If their bed is near a door or draught, move it to a warmer and better-insulated area. For those that sleep with their dogs, ensure they are warm throughout the night, and remember, if you are cold, the likelihood is your Chihuahua is cold too!

It’s also worth adding more bedding and blankets to your Chihuahua’s bed to keep them warm throughout the night. The extra bedding will allow your Chihuahua to make themselves a nest and keep warm throughout the night.

You will need to be mindful that your Chihuahua doesn’t get too warm, which can be bad for them! The goal is to keep them comfortable and cozy throughout the night.

Watch their food and drink

In the winter months, some of us are guilty of walking our dogs less. We become the ‘fair-weathered walkers’ we were adamant we wouldn’t become. But the dark nights, wet and cold weather puts many of us and our dogs off! During this time, your Chihuahuas are likely to be exercised less, meaning you need to keep an eye on their weight.

You must maintain your Chihuahua weight and keep their energy levels at the right level. It can be a balancing act to maintain this, so be sure to speak to a vet if you have any questions or concerns.

Remember, with your Chihuahua; you can still keep them active indoors with lots of playtime to help burn off any excess energy and keep them happy!

You will also need to take care with their water too. It should not be too cold as it can make your dogs ill, exacerbating any existing cold symptoms and give them a sore throat.

Ensure that their water isn’t freezing over outside and leaving their bowls near a warmer area in the house. It’s also worth thinking about the water coming through your tap. If your pipes are close to freezing, the water running will be too cold. Instead, opt for tepid water to go in your Chihuahua’s bowl.

Walk at the right time

As we mentioned earlier, we tend to walk our dogs less during the winter months, but they still need exercise. If you can, try and burn off as much of their energy indoors.

Laser pens, toys, and playtime can burn off your Chihuahua’s energy and keep them fit. It ensures that your dog is kept fit and active without becoming too cold outdoors! If you choose to walk your dog during the winter months, we suggest going at the warmest times of the day. This gives you and your dog the best chance at being warm and avoids the colder temperatures we see in the night and early morning hours.

Avoid outside toilets?

Sometimes it’s just too cold for your Chihuahua to go outside during the winter months. And if your dog is anything like ours, they will refuse to go outside, meaning your home quickly becomes their toilet. We even caught our Chihuahua peeing in the shower once, anything to avoid the cold weather!

A solution to this is to use a puppy pad for your Chihuahua to relieve themselves on. You might recognize them from your puppy training days way back when, but your adult dog will use it just as well!

These will save your Chihuahua from going outside in those freezing temperatures and stop your entire house from becoming a toilet! Why not grab a large packet of them at your next shop to keep you stocked up for winter?

Collars and chips

Winter is one of the worst times of the year for your dog to go missing. We know none of us like thinking about it, but it’s always better to be prepared than kicking ourselves if something goes wrong.

It’s easy for Chihuahuas to get lost during the winter; the environment is different, the snow masks smells, and the dark nights all contribute to wandering dogs that can get lost.

Keep your dog on a leash when walking in the night so that you have a firm grip of them. Ensuring your Chihuahua has a collar on and is microchipped will allow them to be indefinite easily and returned to you should anything go wrong.

Jackets and coats

Before you roll your eyes and judge us for suggesting you buy your Chihuahua clothing, hear us out! A jacket or protective coat will keep your dog warm and prevent the cold symptoms we looked at earlier.

A winter jacket, especially a waterproof one that is fleece-lined, will keep the water off your dog and provide some heat and protection that their shorter coats cannot offer on their own. There is a wealth of these products on the market, and often you need to wade through the gimmicky ones before you find a good quality jacket.

Look out for waterproof protection, lined coats, as well as those that feature reflective stripes or patches that will keep your dog visible during dark and drizzly conditions. Space for a leash to be attached to the collar is also handy, and easy zipper or velcro fastenings will allow you to get even the most resistant Chihuahuas in their coats.

It’s worth weighing up the cost of these too, but often you can get a jacket to suit every budget! Ensure that it is warm enough for your dog and that it will keep them dry on their cold winter walks.

Keeping your chihuahua warm in the winter2

What about their paws?

When walking your Chihuahua in the winter, don’t forget their paws! It’s easy to do, but think about it, would you go out in the snow without your shoes on? You can purchase little winter boots for your Chihuahua’s either in pet stores or online to keep your pups’ paws off the cold ground!

These aren’t essential, but boots will provide your dog with a barrier between their paws and the snow in freezing temperatures or snow. Be sure to also check your Chihuahuas paws for cracks and wounds, as these can be painful during the colder weather and even lead to frostbite!

Nail length

If it isn’t cold enough where you live for winter boots, you will still need to maintain your Chihuahuas paws. Their nails, in particular, need to be trimmed down to avoid causing any harm to your dog.

Longer nails and claws don’t have the right traction needed for ice and compacted snow, causing your dogs to slip and fall, which can result in some serious injuries. You can trim your Chihuahua’s nails yourself or take them to a groomer or vet who will be able to do this for you if you are unsure about the correct length and how to do it.

Chemicals to watch out for

As you know, in the winter, we get to work putting salt and chemicals on the roads and sidewalks to avoid vehicles and people slipping and causing injuries. While it’s fine for us and offers the traction we need in icy conditions, it can be painful for your Chihuahuas paws.

As they don’t have protection, it can be painful to walk on the salt, especially if they have split paws. Chemicals such as antifreeze can get into these splits, causing a lot of pain for your pups and even run the risk of infection! Be sure to consult a vet if you are worried about this.

Avoid snow: yellow and white.

It might seem obvious, but snow can pose a threat to your dog. Ours loves it, and we bet yours were mesmerized when they first saw snow too. But you need to be careful with all kinds of snow, not just the yellow snow!

The bottom line is, you don’t know what’s in that snow. Urine, poop, chemical traces, and lord knows what else can be lurking just underneath the snow. Allowing your dog to eat this means they could be ingesting these chemicals and substances, which can make them unwell.

It’s harder done than said, but try to ensure your Chihuahua doesn’t eat any snow. You might want to avoid walking them in the snow so that they can’t eat it, and also so they won’t get too cold and sick!

Avoid the rain

Rain is another thing to avoid. The combination of damp and cold weather is one of the biggest health risks to your Chihuahua and should be taken very seriously. The cold and wet weather can cause cold symptoms or, in severe cases, hypothermia.

Avoid walking in the rain where possible, or put your Chihuaah in its waterproof jacket if the rain is light. Sometimes we can’t help but get caught in the rain, and your dog will get wet. Ensure that you thoroughly dry your Chihuahua as soon as you get in to avoid them catching a chill.

The same applies if your dog has been out in the snow. Use a dry and warm towel if you have one to hand to ensure their fur is thoroughly dry. Block their path to their bed, too, so they don’t get their bedding wet. The last thing anyone wants is to sleep in damp bedding!

What about my car?

We have had the dangers of leaving a dog in a hot car drilled into us, but winter poses just as much a threat. If the engine is off, then quite quickly, your car’s temperature is going to plummet, leaving your Chihuahua in a freezing environment.

Do not leave your Chihuahua in a car or truck overnight or for an extended period. Either take them with you or leave them at home in the warm where they can be safe.

How to keep your Chihuahua warm at night

We’ve already explored some ways to keep our Chihuahuas warm, but now we are specifically going to look at the tips that will keep your dog warm through the night. As we know, the temperature can drop, and we need to keep our beloved Chihuahuas warm.

The following tips should help you achieve this:

  1. Place their bed away from doors, draughts, or cold rooms
  2. Raise their bed to avoid touching the cold floor
  3. Add extra blankets and bedding to their bed
  4. Place their bedding in a doughnut ring shape for them to keep warm in
  5. Avoid placing the bed too close to a radiator or heat source
  6. Have them in your bed for the night
  7. Use a hot water bottle – ensuring that it isn’t too hot!

Keeping your chihuahua warm in the winter3

Can Chihuahuas catch a cold?

We touched on this briefly earlier, but for those needing a recap: yes, Chihuahuas can catch a cold! If you notice that your Chihuahua is ill during the winter or cold weather, it could be a cold.

Like humans, dogs will have symptoms that they are poor, and they usually start with the odd sneeze or sniffles. You must keep a close eye on your dog, as these symptoms can develop quickly and lead to a serious illness if they aren’t treated.

As we mentioned earlier, Chihuahuas are a brachycephalic breed, where the cavities in their skull are smaller than other dogs. What does this mean? It means that mucus can easily block the cavity and lead to more serious illnesses such as dehydration, hypothermia, or in some cases, pneumonia.

It’s vital that you recognize the symptoms of cold and flu in your Chihuahua so you can deal with it before it becomes serious.

Symptoms of a cold

For those who aren’t sure what to look for, we have listed the common symptoms of a cold your Chihuahua can develop. They might have just one or a few; either way, they need to be monitored, treated, and taken to the vets if needed.

The common symptoms are:

  1. Runny nose and discharge
  2. Sneezing
  3. Runny or watering eyes
  4. A wet sounding cough or wheezing
  5. Warm ears
  6. A lack of appetite
  7. General lethargy
  8. Trouble breathing
  9. Shivering

While sniffles and the odd sneeze are normal, if your Chihuahua coughs in the winter, you should immediately take them to the vets. Coughing in the winter can lead to a chest infection that needs to be treated immediately.

You can check at home if you are concerned. Place your ear on your Chihuahua’s chest and listen. If you can hear a rattling and/or gurgling sound when they breathe, it could be the sign of a cold and mucus on the chest area.

Some owners opt to treat their dogs cold at home. While this is fine to do so, remember to consult a vet if their symptoms worsen or your Chihuahua has significant trouble breathing.

How to treat your Chihuahuas cold

We have some tips below that you can use for those who want to treat their Chihuahuas cold at home. Remember that this is just general guidance, and you should consult a vet if you have any concerns. If your Chihuahua has any existing health conditions, we recommend taking them straight to the vet for tailored treatment for them and their needs.

You can use the following methods to help to treat your Chihuahua’s cold.

Up their fluids

To avoid dehydration while your Chihuahua is unwell, ensure that they are drinking plenty of fluids. It can be hard to coax your dog to drink when they are ill; treats can help, or adding a small amount of chicken broth to the water will give it a flavor your Chihuahua will love!

Add some extras to their food.

When your Chihuahua is unwell, they might lose their appetite, causing them to lose their strength. To encourage them to eat, change their food to some boiled chicken and brown rice. Not only will this be a welcome change to their usual food, but it provides added nutrition that can be vital to their recovery.

Dietary supplements?

Coconut oil, cinnamon, and honey supplements can be added to your Chihuahua food to help cure their cold symptoms. These supplements can improve your dog’s immune system and act as natural cough medicine.

Be sure to read the label carefully to give your Chihuahua the correct dosage, and speak to our vet if you have any questions or concerns.

Limit their activity

Reduce the amount of physical activity your Chihuahua is doing and keep them indoors during the colder weather. It’s best only to let your dog outside to go to the toilet, although you can use puppy pads indoors if it is particularly cold outside.

Lots of love

The one thing that makes us all feel better when we are unwell is plenty of love and affection, and your Chihuahua is no different! Lots of cuddles and strokes will go a long way to make your Chihuahua feel better, but ensure that you only do this when your dog wants it. Respect your Chihuahua’s space and leave them to rest for most of the day.

Hot water bottle

You can add a hot water bottle to your dog’s bed to provide some warmth. You will need to ensure that the bottle isn’t too warm to avoid scalding them. Instead, opt for a warm temperature that will keep them warm and cozy.

Nose balm

Chihuahuas suffer from cracked and dry noses during the cold weather, causing their noses to run and feel painful at times. Dog nose butter or balms are an excellent option here that will soothe and repair any cracks on your dog’s nose.

Remember to follow the instructions carefully and consult a vet if you have any concerns.

If your Chihuahua has started to cough, stop taking fluids, seems to be in pain, or has a rattling sound in their chest, contact the vet. Contact them immediately for older dogs or puppies so that you can get the symptoms and cold treated immediately.

Final Thoughts

And just like that, we have reached the end of our journey together today! As you can see, Chihuahuas are not fans of the cold, and their bodies are not designed to withstand extended periods in freezing temperatures.

Thankfully, there is plenty you can do to ensure your Chihuahua is kept warm and comfortable in all weathers! Be sure to follow our handy tips to keep your Chihuahua warm and cozy, and don’t forget to contact your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

Photo of author
About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.