Why Are My Dog’s Ears Cold? (4 Causes And Concerns)

Dogs are amazing creatures that bring a lot of joy into our lives. If you’ve read much of my work here on this site, you know I’m lucky enough to have two dogs right now.

I’m always happy when I get the chance to hang out with them and if that’s not possible, brag about how they are the best dogs in the world. We do all sorts of fun things together…hiking, car rides, and playing fetch to name a few. These bozos (I say affectionately!) bring me a lot of joy!

On the flip side of things though, I’ve got to do my part for them. I’m sure they’re always happy to see and spend time with me as well. But my responsibilities extend beyond that.

I have to make sure they’re healthy and well-cared for. And that means making sure they get proper exercise, nutrition, and medical care.

Knowing if something is wrong with your dog and how to take care of him is all part of being an excellent dog owner.

So, what about dogs with cold ears? Why are my dog’s ears cold? The quick and easy answer is that your dog’s ears are probably cold because the air is cold, your dog is sick, your dog has circulation problems or your dog has some physical characteristic that makes his ears more likely to be cold.

It’s Cold Out

One (obvious) potential reason your dog’s ears are cold is that it is chilly outside (or inside if that’s where your dog happens to be).

Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of blood vessels and it happens when it’s cold outside. When the temperature drops, your dog’s body will automatically start to divert blood away from his extremities like his ears, nose, and tail in order to keep his vital organs warm.

Remember, your dog’s ears may get cold easier than the rest of his body because a dog’s ears are thin and usually don’t have as much fur for protection. This makes them more susceptible to cold weather.


If your dog’s ears feel cold and he is also acting lethargic, not eating well, or has other symptoms, he may be sick and his cold ears are just one symptom of the illness he is dealing with.

Being sick can lead to a dog’s ears being cold in different ways. When your dog doesn’t feel well, he won’t be moving around and playing as much which will lead to less heat emitting from his body than normal.

Additionally, just like when a dog is exposed to cold temperatures, being sick can lead your body to restrict your blood flow which lowers the temperature of your extremities.

Poor Circulation

Dogs with poor circulation may have cold ears due to poor blood flow to the area. This can be caused by several things so don’t get upset thinking your dog has a serious problem until you’ve had a chance to confirm with your vet what the actual cause is.

Of course, if you suspect your dog has poor circulation, again, a trip to the vet is in order.

Physical Characteristics

Some dogs have physical characteristics that simply make them more likely to have cold ears. Small dogs, for example, tend to get cold easier than larger dogs. This is because they have less mass and therefore less body heat stored deep inside.

Dogs with short coats are also more likely to have cold ears. This is because they don’t have as much fur to protect them from the cold.

What Should I Do About A Dog’s Cold Ears?

First, you’ll need to determine why your dog has cold ears. Once that has been figured out, follow all or some of the tips below to help make sure your dog’s ears aren’t too cold.

  1. Get your dog out of cold and bad weather. If it’s cold and/or wet outside, bring your dog inside until the weather warms up.
  2. Dress your dog in a coat or sweater. This will help protect him from the cold as well as make sure he doesn’t lose too much body heat.
  3. Make sure your home isn’t too cold. If you’re chilly, your dog probably is too.
  4. Don’t leave your dog outside all day/night when it is cold. Good bedding and a dog house go a long way to help your dog stay warm, but they aren’t a replacement for your dog’s body heat.
  5. Get your dog checked out by a vet. If you think he may be sick or have poor circulation. These could both be serious problems that require professional help.

What Does It Mean If My Dog’s Ears Are Cold?

If your dog’s ears are cold and nothing else is going on, then that information by itself probably doesn’t mean much. Of course, as discussed above, your dog’s ears being cold could mean he’s sick or has poor circulation, but you’ll probably see other clues if that’s the case.

Likely, if your dog’s ears are cold and it is a temporary condition, then he was exposed to something cold. Resting his head on something cool (especially on a hot day!) or being outside in the cold are the most likely culprits.

Are Dogs’ Ears Supposed To Be Cold?

In short, a dog’s cold ears by themselves aren’t usually a cause for alarm, but they could be a symptom of something more serious. If you’re concerned about your dog’s health, the best thing to do is check with your vet.

Can You Tell If A Dog Is Cold By Their Ears?

No, if you notice your dog’s ears are cold it could just be his ears that are cold or his whole body temperature could be too low. Ear temperature alone cannot give the full picture.

The best way to determine if your pooch is too cold is by using a thermometer. But if you don’t have one on hand and suspect he is too cold, get him to a warmer place as soon as possible – whether that’s inside the house or in the car.

My dog Duke often has cold ears, even when we’re inside, and nice and toasty. However, with low body fat and short hair, he gives it away when he starts getting too cold. In the winter, it doesn’t take long for him to start shivering when we go outside.

Conclusion: Why Do Dogs Get Cold Ears?

If a dog’s ears are cold, it could be a sign that the dog is cold overall. The weather is often the culprit when it comes to dogs’ ears being cold, as colder temperatures can make the ears feel colder.

If a dog’s ears are cold and the dog doesn’t seem to be shivering or exhibiting any other signs of being cold, it might be best to bring the dog inside to warm up.

However, if a dog’s ears are cold and the dog is exhibiting other signs of being ill, or having poor circulation then it might be a sign that the dog should be taken to the vet. Some illnesses that can cause a dog’s ears to be cold could be as minor as a simple cold or something much more serious.

Don’t forget to account for your dog’s physical characteristics too. An old dog will naturally be colder than a young dog. The same goes for most short-hair breeds compared to their long-haired cousins.

If in doubt, use a thermometer to check your dog’s temperature. If it is below normal (between 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit), then he is most likely too cold and you should take steps to warm him up and call your vet if you suspect a serious underlying issue.

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