Wet noses and cold ears are what many may associate with their pets. The former is often a good thing. It helps scent molecules stick to your dog’s snout better to allow your pup to get information about its world, not unlike dust sticking to a damp cloth. The latter can tell a different story, depending on the circumstances. You may wonder, why are my dog’s ears cold?
The answer involves some simple biology and a check of other symptoms that may indicate a problem. We’ll assure you from the start that it’s usually nothing to worry about because it’s a natural response to the ambient conditions. Let’s do a deep dive to help you understand what’s going on inside of your dog.
Ear Anatomy and Circulation
The visible part of your dog’s ears is called the pinnae. They are composed of cartilage with skin and fur to keep them warm and protect them from the elements. This tissue has no nerves or blood vessels. It’s like your nose and ears. The primary function of cartilage, in this case, is to protect your pup’s inner ears and capture sound waves. These facts hold vital clues as to why they are cold.
Without a significant blood supply, your pup’s ears feel cool to the touch merely because that’s the temperature of the environment. Room temp may not seem cold unless you put your hand in some water of the same warmth. That’s why your pet’s ears feel that way when you touch them versus your 98.6-degree body temp.
Dealing With the Cold
Dogs aren’t too much different from people concerning how we both deal with the cold. Your body will try to protect your internal organs in cold conditions. It will prioritize blood flow to them instead of your extremities. That’s why your toes, fingers, and ears feel the way they do. It’s even more evident in cartilage, such as your nose and your dog’s ears.
If he’s been outside, the chances are they’ll be cold once he comes back into the house.
Cold ears from playing outside are one thing. It’s another matter if your pup has been in extreme cold temperatures for a long time. Then, there’s a risk of your pet developing frostbite. The symptoms are similar to what you might experience. They include:
- Very cold ears
- Painful when touched
- Bluish or pale color visible on dogs with light skin or fur
Frostbite is a serious condition that can cause permanent damage if left untreated. The best way to manage it is to get your pet inside and dry him off first. Then, slowly warm his ears by wrapping him in a blanket. Do not rub your dog’s skin or heat his cold ears too quickly. We suggest contacting your vet for advice. The process of treating frostbite is quite painful as your pup’s ears thaw.
Some breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Greyhounds, have a tougher time dealing with cold weather simply because it’s not in their DNA. You should monitor your pup’s time outside if he’s cold-intolerant, has short fur, or is still a puppy. It doesn’t mean that your pet can’t go outdoors during the winter. You just should limit his time, especially if the temperatures are below freezing.
Blood coursing through your dog’s arteries is how his body distributes heat. Problems with your pup’s circulatory system can affect his blood flow, leaving his ears cooler than usual. Your dog’s body usually manages his body temperature well, adjusting as necessary in cold or hot conditions. If your pet’s ears feel unusually cold, you should discuss it with your vet for further investigation.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also discuss the physical changes in older pets. Poor circulation often occurs in aging dogs, which could explain your pup’s cold ears. You may find it helpful to put a coat or sweater on your pooch for those walks on chilly fall or winter days to keep him warm. That will ensure your dog’s blood flow still is adequate for his extremities, such as his ears and paws.
Several skin conditions, such as dermatitis, can cause hair loss. Even food allergies can cause it to occur. Sometimes there are hereditary causes for hair loss, specifically on your pup’s ears. Your dog relies on his coat to keep him warm. Anything that affects its thickness can leave your pet with less protection against the cold.
Bare patches or excessive scratching isn’t normal. If you notice these symptoms, it’s time to schedule a vet exam for your pet.
Keeping Your Pet Healthy
Plenty of exercise and a healthy, high-quality diet are the best ways to safeguard your pet’s health. Both will ensure the proper functioning of your dog’s immune system to fend off diseases that could affect the temperature of his ears. We also recommend regular vet care. Checking your pup’s ears is a routine part of an exam. It’s always better to catch something early before it becomes more serious.
Cold ears aren’t always diagnostic on their own. If you notice other symptoms, such as appetite loss, lethargy, or nausea, something else may be affecting your pup’s ability to regulate his temperature properly. That’s particularly true if your dog’s ears don’t warm up after coming in from the cold.
The ambient temperature has a significant impact on your dog’s ears. If he’s too hot from running around outside, the chances are that they will feel hot. Likewise, a walk on a brisk winter’s day will also affect them, leaving his ears feeling cold. Most times, it’s not a cause for concern if he’s acting normally otherwise.
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