How Can I Tell if my Greyhound is Cold? Complete Troubleshooter


Greyhounds are heartier than they look; but they are not considered outdoor dogs.  They only have half the body fat of the average dog, so it is important to keep them warm.

If you are wondering “How can I tell if my greyhound is cold,” touch his ear.  If it is cool to the touch, he is cold.  A sleeping greyhound wards off the chill by curling into a tight ball, often draping his tail over his nose.  Outdoors, a cold greyhound will try to shake off the cold the same way he would water.  In snow or ice, watch for your dog to lift his paw off the ground.  That is a sign that he is becoming critically chilled, and you need to get him back indoors.

In this article, you will not only learn how to tell when your greyhound is cold in a variety of situations; you will also learn what to do about it.

How to Tell When Your Greyhound is Cold

A Shivering Greyhound May be Cold (or not)

Of course, a shivering greyhound may be cold, but the opposite is not so – Do not assume that he is comfortable, just because you don’t see shivering.

The shivering, itself, is not always that obvious.  In fact, you may never even notice that your greyhound is shivering, unless you happened to be touching him at the time.  He will not shiver steadily, but in spasms.  If you have one of the large, male greyhounds, you may first notice the shivering not by touch, but by ear!  That is, he will quietly quake, and you will hear objects rattling in the room!

By the way, do not assume that your shivering greyhound is cold.  Greyhounds also shiver when they are frightened; or feeling unwell, weak, or in pain.

Some greyhounds will not ever shiver, so be aware of other signs that might point to your pet being cold.

Cold Greyhounds Have Cold Ears and Paws

If your greyhound’s ears are cool to the touch, chances are that he is getting cold, even though he may appear to be sleeping comfortably.  If you’re still not sure, feel the pads of his paws, to check for coolness.  Since dog’s run a higher normal body temperature than do people, he should always feel warm to you.  

Beware of one paw that always feels cool, when the rest are warm.  This can be a symptom of a blood clot or tumor, and needs to be checked by his vet. 

Greyhounds “Snowball” When They are Cold

“Snowball” is the name for the position I mentioned earlier in this article, when the dog curls up in a tight ball, drawing his paws up to his belly and either tucking in his tail in the middle of it all, or draping it over his nose.  As soon as your pet is warm again, he will bloom out of that position, stretching himself out.  Lily especially loves to stretch out in front of our woodstove, first warming her back; then, turning around to warm her belly, too.

Elderly Greyhounds Get Cold More Easily

In his later life, you will need to check on your greyhound more frequently, as the weather cools.  As they age, they lose quite a bit of the muscle mass that used to burn all those calories, which fuel a greyhound’s natural “furnace.”  This means he will become chilled more easily than he did before.  

In spite of what some may think of greyhound racing, the dogs are housed in a very comfortably warm environment.  Greyhounds are like any athlete – Warm muscles will always out-perform cold ones; so keeping the kennel warm and cozy is just a matter of course.  For those who wish to do a deep dive into this topic, the resources below link to the cold weather policy from the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, as an example.

How to Tell if Greyhound is Too Cold Outdoors

If you see your greyhound start jerking a paw up, off the snowy ground, stepping gingerly, this is a sign that you need to get him inside right away.  You may even find that he is unwilling to step any further, even to return home.  I have always gotten my dogs back to the house successfully, but I have heard accounts from fellow greyhound owners of having to carry the dog home.

…but, please, do not let your greyhound get to that point, for his safety and yours, as well.  A greyhound weighs about the same as two toddlers, and is about as predictable!  This is not what you want to carry along an icy path.

Supervise Greyhounds in Yards – Especially When it’s Cold

Greyhounds are not bred to live outdoors.  That’s another article, but your greyhound should always be closely supervised when out in the yard;.  This is doubly so during frigid weather.  

Not all greys have good judgement when they get in trouble.  A cold greyhound is apt to decide that he should hunker down in the snow and wait for help.

I witnessed this behavior in my first greyhound, Peaches.  She was very fussy about going out in bad weather.  The moment she decided she didn’t like the weather, she would begin the relentless appeal to return home. “No, thanks, Mom; I’ll just hold it until the weather improves”  quickly became a problem.  It was a circus of Peaches on one side of the door or the other, in and out in rapid succession, with still no dog business getting done.  

I got sick of being held hostage to this behavior, but I didn’t want her to have an accident in the house.  I finally settled on putting her out, and quickly disappearing behind a curtain, where I could keep an eye on her without her knowing it.

This worked well, until one cold, snowy night – I turned her out into the yard, and “disappeared.”  After staring defiantly through the glass for a minute, she went to the nearest patch of snowy grass, turned around three times, and curled up in the snow, with her tail over her nose.

How to Keep Your Greyhound Warm Indoors

Cozy Indoor-wear for Sighthounds

There is a wonderful array of indoor clothing for greyhounds, whippets, and italian greyhounds.  All of these sighthounds have thin skin, thin coats, and not much body fat; making these cozy items popular with the dogs’ owners.  Here in the US, I am familiar with pajamas for greyhounds; but since seeing so many hounds in videos hailing from the UK, I’ve noticed that some pups wear their cozies all day!  The invention of Polar Fleece has been a boon to greyhounds, making it possible for them to have little garments that are toasty warm, blanket-soft, and stretchy enough to accommodate the sleepy greyhound, who is in a different napping position every time you look at him.  Whether you get full pajamas, a sweater, or a simple shawl; your dog will sleep happier and healthier with this little bit of help from you.

Greyhounds Keep Warm by Nesting

Your greyhound adores having a quilt of his very own to cuddle up to his chest, or roll into a neat bolster for his back (by “quilt,” I mean a layered blanket, with stuffing held in place by stitches, which go through all the layers of fabric).  You may have an old one to pass on to your hound.  I have had great luck finding bargain quilts by checking the clearance section of my local store or online home furnishings dealer.  Those made for children have the bonus of being easily washable, and sometimes come in smaller sizes.  Good sizes for dogs are toddler, day-bed, and twin.

I keep an assortment of blankets in varying weights to suit different temperatures.  Flannel sheets make nice light coverings for mildly cool nights.  Always keep a blanket aside, away from your greyhound’s bed.  Sometimes, he will fall asleep on top of his blanket, and end up needing the extra one to cover him up.

As with quilts, all sorts of blankets are easy to find at low, clearance prices.  You can create lovely blankets for your dog simply by buying a 2-yard length of fleece from your fabric store.  It doesn’t need any sewing, because fleece does not unravel, even in the washer.  To make flannel coverings, buy 2 yards of flannel.  It will need to be hemmed to prevent fraying, but only on the cut sides.  Flannel tends to come with two finished sides.  

Greyhounds love pillows, too.

How to Make Your Sighthound’s Bed Warmer

Cots that raise a dog’s bed off the floor are very popular, but they are not for every home.  They are helpful, if you have very cold floors.  They are counter-productive, however, if your home is drafty.  That draft swirls around, right under that cot, and makes your dog even colder!  

If you live in a drafty home, you are better off insulating your dog from the floor by placing extra padding under his bed.  This is so much better, anyway, from an orthopedic standpoint.  It is a good way to re-purpose that old dog bed that’s worn a bit too thin.  Just slide it right under your greyhound’s current bed.  There is a wonderful array of orthopedic foam available.  You can purchase a king-size mattress-topper, and cut it into 4 pieces.  This gives you a good supply of under-bed insulation for multiple dog beds, or replacements to stash away in the attic.  

Spend some time sitting on the floor by your dog’s bed, to see if there are any drafts which are hitting him directly.  If there are, here are some solutions:

  • Move his bed to less drafty place.
  • Move his bed (safely) closer to heating source.
  • Set up his bed in his crate, and cover the side or top to block the draft (do not fully cover your dog’s crate, as greyhounds need a lot of air circulation).
  • Set up a card table over his bed, and cover the drafty side, creating a little shelter for him.  I discovered this one when I set it up for my son to play in, and the dog liked it better!

Track Down and Block Drafts in your Home

This will benefit everybody, and save you money on the heating bill.  It makes a big difference if you can go through your whole house and block every draft, but even just finding the worst offender can make a huge difference in everyone’s comfort.  Here are some which I have found valuable:

  • Place a draft sausage in front of the crack under the door.
  • Put plastic over a particularly drafty window
  • Squirt a little Loctite foam into a gap, especially those on the windiest side of your home.
  • Install a layer of specially-cut foam insulation under your electrical socket plates

How to Safely Use Special Dog Heating Pads

Thermal pads, which reflect your dog’s heat back at him, are also available.  I have one I bought over 20 years ago, which is still going strong.  I also have several veterinary-quality electric heating pads, which produce a mild, comforting heat, which is especially welcomed by arthritic hounds.  

*** Never use YOUR heating pad on your dog!***

  They are not made for canine use.  They can easily overheat, endangering your dog’s health, and creating a fire hazard for everyone in your home.

How to Keep Your Greyhound Warm Outdoors

How Cold is too Cold for Walks?

Many greyhound owners say “if you need a jacket, your greyhound needs a jacket,” but I cannot agree with this. Dogs have a higher body temperature than people; and greyhounds have a particularly high metabolism. 

The other problem with this theory is the wide range of opinion as to when even a human needs a jacket!  Women seem to need covering at higher temperatures than men. Then, there’s age – We bundle up the baby, until all you see is a tiny face. Children shed their jackets quickly. As we age, we are apt to feel colder at higher temperatures. 

Start by letting the thermometer be your guide. Here’s a Greyhound Homecare exclusive trick you won’t see anywhere else – When in doubt, carry the dog’s coat with you. Then, watch your greyhound to see if he is comfortable.  I rarely end up needing the coat; but occasionally, I am surprised. 

The chart below will get you started. 

If the weather is damp and/or windy, the temperature at which he needs a coat may be higher than what you see on this chart:

TEMPERATUREACTION
50F/ 10CLight jacket
40F/ 4.4CCoat
20F/ -6.7CCoat over light jacket 
Under 20F/ -6.7C2 coats, curtail walk time
GREYHOUND HOMECARE OFFICIAL COAT GUIDE

Below are signs that your dog is uncomfortable with the temperature. He may show one or more of these:

  • He shakes off repeatedly. 
  • He can’t seem to settle down to do his “business.”
  • He walks stiffly. 
  • He wants to return home prematurely. 
  • He gives you a pleading look. 
  • He whines. 

Protect Greyhound Paws in Winter

If you live in an area where you have any severe winter weather, protecting your greyhound’s tender paws is a must.   Doing these three things will save your dog the pain of cold, sore, cracked paws:

Condition his pads by coating them with cocoa butter or Musher’s Secret balm.  I like Palmer’s Cocoa Butter stick.  A good time to apply it is after he has come in for the night, so it has time to soak in.

Protect his paws with boots.  I have yet to find ones that my dog doesn’t hate, and that don’t crowd her nails.  A new brand called Hunnyboots has several videos of their product on YouTube.  They are made especially for greyhounds, and have the bonus of looking absolutely adorable.

Clean his paws, if they have been exposed to road salt.  I usually set a container of tepid water at the top of my driveway, and just rinse her paws really quickly before we come back in.  There is also a product called the Paw Jug.  YouTube has a good video about this on the Greyt Show channel.

Comfortable Outdoor Bathing for Greyhounds

Luckily, greyhounds are one breed that does not need a lot of bathing!  They are really very clean dogs.  I generally pick a warm day in the Spring, and again in the Fall, and bathe Lily outside.  It’s much easier and less clean-up.  I find if I bathe her more than this, her skin gets dried out.  I choose Fall and Spring, because that is when a greyhound sheds, and this helps get all the excess fur off of her.  

At our last home, we made the happy discovery that there was a hot water line right next to the outdoor water line; so we had the plumber cut the hot water into the outdoor line, adding a shutoff valve.  It was very nice to be able to open the valve a bit to give the dog a warm bath from the hose!

My current home does not have this, but we do have a large deck, which drains well during outdoor dog-bathing.  I heat water in the kettle and add it to water in a 5-gallon bucket out on the deck, ’til it’s just the right temperature.  I wash her with a warm, soapy cloth, and rinse her by dipping a small container into the heated water.  I towel her off, and place her pad in the sun, which she finds very agreeable indeed.

Other Tips for Keeping your Greyhound Warm and Comfortable

If your dog gets wet during a walk, I must warn you, he will try to bolt for his bed the second you get him back inside.  Do not let your wet greyhound back into his bed, or he will be chilled and miserable.  He won’t smell too great, either.

 I usually will bring Lily into the garage to towel her off.  It’s indoors, so I can remove her leash, but it keeps her from shaking off in the house or bolting into her bed.  If the garage is too cold, I bring her into the house by her collar, and watch for signals that she’s going to make a break for it before she’s dry.  They do learn to love being towelled-off, though, so they’ll usually stick around for that.  It also helps to train them to know that they will get a cookie when you are done drying them off.

GRV (Greyhound Racing Vicoria) makes the point that your greyhound may require more food in cold weather, to give him more calories to burn and keep warm.

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE

Greyhound Racing Vicoria article –  http://greyfortgreyhounds.com/ArticlesPDF/files/Cold-Weather.pdf

Podcast episode with more greyt cold weather tips from About Greyshttps://aboutgreys.com/tag/cold-weather-protection/

If you are wondering “How can I tell if my greyhound is cold,” touch his ear. If it is cool to the touch, he is cold. A sleeping greyhound wards off the chill by curling into a tight ball, often draping his tail over his nose. Outdoors, a cold greyhound will try to shake off the cold the same way he would water. In snow or ice, watch for your dog to lift his paw off the ground. That is a sign that he is becoming critically chilled, and you need to get him back indoors.

Gail McGaffigan

The owner of the Greyhound Homecare website and YouTube channel, Gail has had retired racing greyhounds as pets since 1997. Please visit our channel, too! https://www.youtube.com/c/GreyhoundHomecare

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