The Australian Cattle Dog was bred to work cattle in the hot dry Australian outback. As you would expect they are tolerant of the hotter weather. For more on Blue Heeler hot temperature tolerance see here.
But how well do they do when the mercury drops down low?
How cold is too cold for a Blue Heeler?
Australian Cattle Dogs are robust with a thick water-resistant double coat. This gives them protection from the cold, rain, wind, and snow. They are able to tolerate temperatures at freezing or below as long as they stay moving.
Mild temperatures between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 20 degrees Celcius) are no problem for them. Cooler temperatures between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 to 10 degrees Celcius) are also no problem for them to be active outside but a warm waterproof jacket is recommended.
For a Blue Heeler that lives outside, any colder than this is simply too cold and potentially dangerous. For more advice for a Blue Heeler living outside see here.
When the temperature reaches freezing at 30F or lower precautions need to be taken. If the temperature gets as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit ( – 10 degrees Celcius) it is potentially dangerous for them.
The conditions will also have an effect on how well your Blue Heeler is coping with the cold. A rainy and windy day will feel a lot colder than a sunny day at the same temperature. The length of time spent out in the cold is also a consideration. The effects of the cold may seem fine at first but as time passes it can wear on the body. It is important to know the signs to watch for that your Blue Heeler is getting too cold.
|50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 20 degrees Celcius)||Ideal conditions, not too hot or cold|
|40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 to 10 degrees Celcius)||Fine, stay active, coat recommended|
|30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to 4.5 degrees Celcius)||Be cautious, bottom of safe zone|
|15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 to -1 degrees Celcius)||Potentially dangerous,|
|15 degrees Fahrenheit ( – 10 degrees Celcius)||Dangerous, short periods only|
|0 degrees Fahrenheit (- 18 degrees Celcius)||Too cold, dangerous|
Are Australian Cattle Dogs good in snow?
Blue Heelers love to be outside and most will enjoy playing in the snow. However, beware of the temperature (see table above), keep them moving, and make sure they don’t get too wet. Also, be vigilant of the signs that your Blue Heeler is showing symptoms of being too cold.
Signs your Blue Heeler is getting too cold
Australian Cattle Dogs are robust and often won’t make a big deal if something is wrong. However, if you are out in cold weather, especially if it has been an extended period of time, keep vigilant for these signs that they are too cold.
- Shaking and shivering. This is the body’s natural way to try to get warm.
- Vocalizing such as whining, and whimpering.
- Their tail is tucked well between their legs.
- They are lifting their paws off the ground indicating the surface is too cold
If your Australian Cattle Dog is showing these signs when you are outside on a cold day it is time to get back inside.
What are the hazards for Blue Heelers in cold weather?
There are many potential risks and hazards for your Blue Heeler when the weather gets too cold. Some are minor issues while others can be life-threatening.
Hypothermia in dogs (and humans) is extremely serious and can be fatal. It occurs when the body temperature drops too low. The normal body temperature for a dog is 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3-39.2 Celsius). If their body temperature drops below 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celcius) it is a medical emergency. Contact your vet immediately.
Signs to beware of that your Blue Heeler may have hypothermia include –
- Weakness and lethargy
- Their heart rate is dropping
- Their breathing is slow and shallow
- Disorientation and loss of mental alertness
- Fixed and dilated pupils
- Loss of consciousness
If you are concerned that your Blue Heeler is showing signs of hypothermia take immediate action and contact your vet.
Frostbite is when the tissue of the extremities freezes and dies. The body parts most at risk of being affected by frostbite are the tips of the ears and tail, and paws. This is also an extremely serious situation and you should contact your vet immediately.
Antifreeze is a common additive we keep in our garages in the colder months. However, this is highly toxic to a dog and can cause extreme pain and result in death. Ensure you don’t store antifreeze anywhere your Blue Heeler could possibly get to it.
If you suspect your Blue Heeler may have been poisoned by Antifreeze, contact your vet without delay.
If your Blue Heeler has joint issues such as Arthritis or Hip Dysplasia, the cold weather will aggravate and make them worse. There is no cure to these types of issues, but your vet may be able to provide ways to give some relief.
If your Blue Heeler is showing signs of stiffness and being sore keep them warm and try to stay inside.
Ice and slippery surfaces
Blue Heelers are full-on when they are playing outside. However, during the colder weather, there is an increased risk of slips due to ice or wet surfaces.
Dry and flakey skin
From being outside in the cold to coming inside to the warmth repeatedly can cause your Blue heeler skin to become dry, itchy, and flakey. Ensure you dry them well if they have gotten wet and make sure they are well hydrated. For more on dog hydration see here.
Tips to keep your Blue Heeler comfortable and safe in cold temperatures
Put a winter coat on your Blue Heeler
Provide your Blue Heeler with a warm fleece-lined and waterproof jacket. View winter dog jackets here on Amazon.
Dry your Blue Heeler after being outside
If you have been out in the cold, especially if it has been raining or snowing, dry your Blue Heeler off with a towel. Get them as dry as possible and be sure to dry between their toes and paw pads.
I highly recommended getting a small dog blow dryer for your Blue Heeler. This will help to blast out any water or dampness and get them totally dry.
I would recommend something such as these low-cost dryers which come with two airspeed settings and three heat levels (no heat, medium, and high), and several easy to attachment nozzles to increase airflow.
View small inexpensive dog blow dryers on Amazon.
Check their paws
Check underneath your Blue Heelers paws regularly, especially after being outside, for signs of cracking. It is a good idea to have some Paw Balm to soothe and repair any damage to the paws.
Alternatively, put dog booties on your Blue Heeler when you venture outside. The RUFFWEAR, Grip Trex Outdoor Dog Boots with Rubber Soles are ideal for a Blue Heeler. View on Amazon.
Your Blue Heeler will burn more energy when the weather is cold by trying to stay warm. Increase their daily calorie intake and monitor their weight to ensure they are not losing weight.
A warm place to sleep
Ensure your Blue Heeler has a nice warm place to sleep. Provide them with a comfortable warm bed and blanket that is preferably off the floor and away from any drafts.
Summary – Blue heelers in cold weather
Australian Cattle Dogs are relatively tolerant of colder temperatures. However, it is important to take precautions when the temperature is getting too cold. Temperatures above 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 to 10 degrees Celcius) are generally safe but a warm jacket is often a good idea.
When the temperature falls below15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 to -1 degrees Celcius) there is the potential risk of hypothermia or frost bite.