dog with hat and coat in winter

Cold ears in dogs can be caused by several factors, ranging from the weather to underlying health conditions. Poor circulation, cold weather, breed, age, and certain medical issues may lead to a dog’s ears feeling cold to the touch. Other factors include being underweight or having short fur. In most cases, cold ears are not a cause for concern, but understanding the underlying causes and monitoring your dog’s overall health can ensure he stays comfortable.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Understanding Cold Ears in Dogs

Many dog owners have felt their pup’s ears and wondered why they were cool to the touch. This might lead you to question if something is wrong with your beloved pet. But don’t worry; in most cases, cold ears in dogs are not a cause for concern.

What It Means When Your Dog’s Ears Feel Cold

Dog’s ears are thin and contain many blood vessels. These blood vessels in the ears help to regulate body temperature. When the blood flow to these areas is reduced or if your dog is exposed to cold weather, the ears can also get cold. So if you’re out on a chilly day and your dog’s ears are cold, it might just be due to cold weather.

If your dog has short hair, they may be more susceptible to the cold. Dogs with short fur tend to get cold more easily, and their ears may feel cold to the touch more quickly. Additionally, some breeds, especially those with erect ears, are more prone to getting cold ears.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Cold ears in dogs can be a normal occurrence, but it’s good to know what to look for. Here are some common signs:

  • Ears feel cold to the touch
  • Shivering or other signs that your dog is cold
  • Noticeable changes in your dog’s circulation or behavior

In addition to cold ears, you may notice other parts of the body feeling cooler. But unless your dog is on certain medications or shows signs of hypothermia or low body temperature, it’s likely not something to panic about. However, if your dog’s cold ears persist and are accompanied by other symptoms, a trip to the vet might be in order.

dog with ear muffs

The Causes of Cold Ears

Understanding why your dog’s ears are cold requires looking into several possible factors. These range from environmental conditions to underlying health issues.

Cold Weather

Cold temperatures are an obvious reason why your dog’s ears feel cold. Exposure to cold weather without proper protection can make the ears cold. Some dogs are more sensitive to cold due to cold intolerance. Ensuring proper shelter and warmth can help.

Circulation Issues and Poor Circulation

Poor circulation is one of the common causes of cold ears in dogs. The blood vessels in the ears help to spread blood around the body, keeping the dog warm. If there’s an issue with the dog’s circulation, the ears could feel cold to the touch.

Dog Breed and Size

Some dog breeds are more prone to getting cold ears. Dogs like greyhounds or those with erect ears might experience cold ears more often.

Small dog breeds and dogs with short fur tend to get cold more easily. Whether it’s a tiny Chihuahua or a hairless breed, some dogs are more prone to cold ears.

Senior Dogs

As dogs age, their ability to maintain body temperature might decrease. An older dog may experience cold ears more often. 

Health Conditions Leading to Cold Ears

Different medical issues might be the reason why your dog’s ears feel cold. Here’s an in-depth look at some of them:

Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic shock is a severe medical condition that can make your dog’s ears cold to the touch. This condition happens when there’s a significant decrease in blood volume. It might be due to dehydration, hemorrhage, or issues with fluid distribution.

In addition to cold ears, you might notice pale gums, a rapid heart rate, or weakness in your dog. Hypovolemic shock requires urgent medical attention.


This is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones. In dogs, it can result in reduced body temperature, causing the ears to feel cold.


A lack of red blood cells can make a dog’s body unable to carry enough oxygen. This condition may lead to cold ears as the blood flow and body heat are affected.

Congestive Heart Failure

If your dog’s heart is not pumping blood effectively, it can lead to poor circulation. The ears might become cold due to reduced blood flow.


A lack of adequate hydration might reduce the blood flow to the ears, making them feel cool to the touch.

Ear Margin Necrosis

Though rare, this condition affects the blood supply to the ear margins, causing the ears to become cold.

Medication Effects

If your dog is on certain medications, they might cause a reaction that affects the body temperature and makes the ears cold.

Taking Your Dog to the Vet

If your dog’s ears feel cold and you’re concerned, it might be a good idea to plan a trip to the vet. While cold ears are often nothing to worry about, understanding when to seek professional help and what to expect can provide peace of mind.

When to Visit the Vet

Cold ears may not always be a cause for concern, but in some cases, it’s wise to consult the vet. If your dog’s ears are cold for an extended period, even when it’s not cold outside, it may be time to consult the vet.

In addition to cold ears, if your dog shows signs of illness or discomfort, a visit to the vet is advisable.

What to Expect During the Vet Examination

The vet will likely ask about when you first noticed the cold ears and any related symptoms. This helps in diagnosing the issue.

The vet might check the blood flow, paw, and other parts of the body to determine the cause of the cold ears. They may take your dog’s temperature to make sure they don’t have hypothermia or low body temperature. Depending on the diagnosis, the vet might prescribe a warm compress or other treatments.

Treatment and Care Plans for Cold Ears in Dogs

Depending on the cause, you might be instructed to use a warm compress on the ears or limit your dog’s exposure to the cold. If the cold ears are due to an underlying health condition, medication might be prescribed. Dogs that just had surgery or dogs like puppies might need additional care.

big dog with muffs outside

How to Keep Your Dog Warm

Keeping your dog warm is essential, especially when the weather turns chilly. Here’s how to manage and protect your pet’s body temperature.

Protecting Your Dog in Cold Weather

Cold weather can make your dog’s ears feel cold. Here are some ways to protect your pet:

Managing Body Temperature for a Dog Is Cold

If your dog is cold, here’s how to manage their body temperature:

  • A warm compress on the ears can also help if they become cold.
  • Consider a pet-safe heated blanket to help your dog stay cozy.
  • Take your dog’s temperature if he appears to be dangerously cold and contact your vet if necessary.


Your furry friend relies on you to keep them warm and comfortable. Cold ears in dogs can be due to various factors, including age, breed, weather, and health conditions. While cold ears might not always be a cause for concern, recognizing the signs and knowing when to take a trip to the vet is essential.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and if you found this article helpful, don’t hesitate to share it with other dog lovers in your life!

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Written by Tom Cashman

I have grown up with pets for almost fifty years. My family has strong ties to the animal shelter community in Chicago. Currently I have two cats: an orange tabby named Zelda, and a gray mixed named Zander. Like all of my pets, they were adopted from a local animal shelter. Pet Zone represents my passion for sharing with the pet community.

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