We recently covered how cold is too cold to take your dog outside for a walk. But what is the best indoor temperature for our furry friends? The short answer is: Generally what is comfortable for us will be comfortable for them (unless you’re one of those people who sleeps with the windows open during winter).
The long answer is, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC): “An ideal temperature doesn’t exist for all dogs, since their normal body temperature will vary according to size.” They stop short of recommending a specific temperature range inside your home, but there are some general guidelines we can follow.
Why you shouldn’t keep your house too warm
Canines can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke due to elevated temperatures, just like humans. It’s even more uncomfortable and potentially dangerous when there’s a high level of humidity in the air. Because of their insulating coats, dogs don’t release heat by sweating through their skin like we do. Panting is your dog’s primary cool-down mechanism, and they need take in cool, dry air. The faster and shallower the panting, the hotter they are.
Dr. Barry Kellogg told the Humane Society, “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels — very quickly.”
The general consensus, however, is that a comfortable indoor temperature for most dogs during warm months is between 24 to 26 degrees Celsius.
Why you shouldn’t keep your house too cold
Besides feeling uncomfortably chilly, too-low temperatures can exacerbate certain health conditions in dogs. Cold can aggravate arthritic aches and lead to increased joint pain, and painful cracked paw pads (just as our skin is prone to flaking and cracking in dry, cold winter conditions).
According to Top Dog Health, the effects of cold can have particularly negative outcomes in sick or elderly dogs. “A low body temp can affect how well their heart works, cause an irregular heartbeat, and bring about low oxygen in the body or a change in blood pressure. It can suppress the immune system, leading to a higher infection rate and slower wound healing.”
In winter months, a comfortable indoor temperature for most dogs is between 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.
What do size, weight and coat type have to do with it?
Coat type: In general, dogs with longer, thicker coats will have a higher tolerance for cold than their short-haired brethren, who lose body heat faster and are more susceptible to a chill in the air.
Size and weight: Smaller dogs lose body heat more quickly than large dogs, and may require extra indoor warmth. On the flip side, it’s harder for large and overweight dogs to regulate body heat, and they can benefit from extra cooling in the summer.
Age: Just like we warm our homes for the newborns and senior citizens in our lives, so should we for puppies and elderly pets. Consider raising the thermostat a degree or two for a new pup or an ageing pooch whose internal system of temperature regulation has seen better days, or who may have ongoing illnesses, infections, or joint pains.
Always take your dog’s individual breed, size, and general health into consideration when settling on an indoor temperature. Don’t ever let indoor temperatures drop below 60 degrees, or hover above 80. Watch for signs they’re too cold or too hot, such as excessive panting, increased heart rate, or disorientation.