Whether it’s the peak of summer or the height of winter, you need to know how hot or cold it can get before your Labrador starts to experience negative health effects.
What temperature can Labradors handle? Labradors can handle hot temperatures up to 90˚F and cold temperatures down to 20˚F. This is not a hard rule though ‒ the temperatures your Labrador can handle can change based on humidity, water consumption, activity level, and other factors.
The rest of this article will discuss the factors that affect your Labrador’s ability to withstand heat and cold, as well as what you can do to help them when the temperature does get too high or low.
The hottest temperatures Labradors can handle
Adult Labradors can generally handle temperatures of up to 90˚F. However, you shouldn’t just look at the temperature on a hot summer’s day and automatically decide it’s safe for your dog to spend an extended period of time outside. You also need to take the following factors into account.
When your dog is dealing with particularly high temperatures, it is absolutely crucial that they have access to a plentiful supply of water. Water is always an important thing for your dog to have, but this is especially true on hot summer days.
It’s so critical because dogs have to cool themselves through panting. They don’t have a bunch of sweat glands to deal with excess body heat like we do ‒ all the heat that leaves their body needs to leave through their mouth.
Panting uses up a lot of water, and that water needs to be replenished constantly to keep your Labrador comfortable and prevent heatstroke. So if it’s a bit below 90˚F, but your dog doesn’t have any access to water, it’s still much too hot for them to be outside.
While water availability is the most important factor in keeping your Lab’s internal body temperature low, their activity level is also important to track. Increased exertion will cause your dog to heat up more quickly, which will result in more panting.
More panting will require more water to replenish lost liquid and a shaded location in which your dog can avoid the heat of the Sun.
If you’re just letting your dog out in the yard for a few hours, it can be hard to gauge how active they’re going to be.
There’s a pretty simple solution to this though ‒ if the temperature is near the 90˚F maximum, supervise your dog while they’re playing outside. If they run around a lot or start to pant incessantly, play it safe and take them back inside.
The heat of your home
All of the advice I’ve been giving about bringing your dog inside when it’s hot is based on the assumption that your home is significantly cooler than it is outside.
If you don’t have air conditioning, there’s a chance the heat inside your home is just as bad as it is outside. Sure, your home is out of the unbearable sun rays, but the temperature inside can still be stifling.
If your Labrador is overheating inside the house, there are a few things you can do to lower their body temperature and decrease the chance of heatstroke:
- Place a strong fan near their resting spot. You can fill a bowl with ice and place it in front of the fan to lower the air temperature even further.
- Give them a bowl of ice water to lick.
- Close your blinds to prevent the sun from getting inside. If you have blackout curtains, use those to completely reduce sun-related heat gain.
- Make your ceiling fans rotate counterclockwise.
- If you have a basement, bring your Lab down there. Heat rises, so the lower rooms in your home will be cooler.
- Don’t use your stove or oven, if at all possible. The heat produced by these appliances will permeate throughout your home and make it harder for your Labrador to cool down.
A high humidity level with moderate temperatures is just as bad for your dog as placing then under the noontime sun on a blazing hot day.
And if the humidity level and temperature are both exceptionally high, you should be wary of letting your dog go outside at all.
High humidity is so bad for dogs because excessively humid air makes it difficult for them to rid their bodies of heat.
Panting is much less effective than it is in less humid weather, and your dog can overheat extremely quickly if you’re not careful.
I’ve been mentioning heatstroke as a potential health hazard caused by your dog overheating, but I haven’t gone into detail about what it actually is and what it can do to your dog. Allow me to change that.
Heatstroke is basically a chemical reaction that occurs when your dog’s body is heated to an unsustainable temperature. This reaction causes the cells in your dog’s body to die, and puts your dog’s life at risk. As such, it’s extremely important to prevent heatstroke at all costs.
To identify heatstroke, you need to know the main symptoms dogs suffering from it exhibit:
- Excessive panting
- Extreme lethargy
- Red gums
- Loss of consciousness
The prevention of heatstroke is pretty simple: don’t leave your dog in hot environments for long periods of time. If you do need to leave your dog in a hot environment, give them plenty of water and check in on them frequently.
Older dogs and overweight dogs are more prone to developing heatstroke, so take extra care if you have an elderly or chunky Labrador.
If your dog does exhibit signs of heatstroke, you need to get them to a vet’s office immediately.
The coldest temperatures Labradors can handle
The majority of temperature-related health problems in dogs are related to hear, but there are consequences of leaving your Labrador in the cold for too long too.
Most Labradors can handle a minimum temperature of 20˚F before entering a danger zone. However, there are also some factors that can exacerbate cold weather exposure and place your Labrador in danger at temperatures higher than 20˚F.
Age and size
The depth of the cold that your Labrador can handle is highly dependent on their age and size. Healthy full-size Labradors should be alright at temperatures down to 20˚F. Labrador puppies, older Labradors, and sick Labradors will be at risk at any temperature below 32˚F.
And even if your Labrador is technically safe from harm at 20˚F or 32˚F, that doesn’t mean they’ll be comfortable in the cold. Many dogs start to feel distress from cold weather at temperatures as high as 45˚.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your dog inside when it’s particularly cold out. They don’t like the cold weather ‒ they’d much rather be inside where it’s toasty and warm ‒ and you shouldn’t subject them to cold temperatures unless they need to go out to use the bathroom.
Water and snow
If water or snow is involved, the risk of hypothermia increases drastically. Your Labrador’s body is prone to freeze and shut down much more quickly if their coat gets wet or they’re forced to stand in the snow for an extended period of time.
So if it’s raining or snowing outside, do everything you can to keep them inside. If you do need to let them out, make sure it’s quick ‒ and supervise them the entire time they’re outside.
Wind chill is another weather phenomenon that can make the effects of cold weather feel more intense. When checking the temperature to see if it’s safe for your dog to go outside, you should also check what the depths of the wind chill will be. If it’s below the 20˚F mark (32˚F for old/young/sick Labs), keep your pup inside.
The main risk for dogs exposed to excessive cold is hypothermia. Like heatstroke, this is also potentially fatal ‒ so you need to be extremely careful when your dog is exposed to cold temperatures.
To finish off this article, here’s a list of common hypothermia symptoms in Labradors that you can use to keep your dog safe from harm during the wintertime:
- Uncontrollable shivering
- Howling or whining in pain
- Overall weakness
- Seeking out warmth
- Mentally dull
- Loss of consciousness