Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Are My Dog’s Ears Cold? 4 Reasons & Vet-Approved Advice

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

pudelpointer in snow

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Any time your dog’s behavior changes, it can be concerning. Figuring out what’s wrong with your furry friend when they’re acting strange or exhibiting unusual behavior is more difficult than diagnosing another person. Since your dog can’t tell you what’s bothering them, you have to play detective and uncover what’s wrong on your own.

One common affliction your dog might display is cold ears. Having cold ears isn’t immediately cause for concern, but there could be some underlying medical conditions that warrant a trip to the vet in rare cases. In this article, we’ll break down the four most common causes of cold ears and what you can do to help your pooch in each case.

Divider 1

The 4 Main Reasons a Dog’s Ears Are Cold

1. It’s Cold Outside

This seems like a no-brainer, but dogs react to the cold differently than humans, and it can be surprising how quickly a dog’s ears get cold after just a little time outside in the frosty weather. Dogs’ ears are thin and far from the center of their bodies, so they’re the first places to drop in temperature when your dog starts to get cold.

If you have a small dog, a short-haired dog, or an older dog, you need to be especially attentive when you take them out in the cold. Small dogs lose heat more quickly than larger dogs and can get dangerously cold in mere minutes when the temperature is below freezing. Short-haired dogs are also susceptible to the cold since they lack the large, insulating coats that long-haired dogs enjoy. If you notice your dog shaking or quivering, it’s time to come inside.

Many people don’t realize that older dogs can get cold more easily than younger dogs. As a dog ages, its circulatory system becomes less efficient and less effective. Just like people, senior dogs can get cold quite easily, so be careful taking out your aging buddy during the cooler months.

Norwegian dog in the wind
Image Credit: Nyvoll, Shutterstock

What to Do About It

The easiest way to deal with cold weather is to limit your dog’s time outside. If you notice them getting cold—either by feeling their ears or seeing shaking—get them inside immediately.

If your dog has short hair or is a smaller dog, consider getting them an insulating coat or sweater for the cold weather. Putting a coat on your fuzzy buddy isn’t a replacement for monitoring them attentively, but it can help them feel more comfortable.

2. Frostbite

On a related note, cold ears from cold weather can escalate quickly from an easily fixed non-issue to a serious problem. In some cases, frostbitten ears can require surgery, and your dog may lose part of its ear.

If your dog’s ears start to develop a bright pink color, get them out of the cold as soon as possible. Once inside, you can take some measures to help restore proper blood flow.

What to Do About It

Once you’re safely back inside, soak a washcloth in warm water and apply it to their ears. Continue applying the warm cloth for about 10 minutes. It’s a good idea to warm up the rest of your dog as well since frostbitten ears most likely mean their body temperature is quite low. Warm towels or blankets are the best ways to quickly get your dog’s temperature back up to safe levels.

If your dog’s ears do not improve or if they act lethargic, take them to your vet right away. Dogs can become hypothermic just like people, and it can be life-threatening. Professional help is always the best option when your dog’s health is at risk.

3. They’re Sick

Some dog owners don’t realize that their four-legged friends can get sick just like they can. If you have noticed that your dog’s ears get cold too often and your dog seems to have cold intolerance as well as a general lack of energy, you should bring your dog to the vet. Hypothyroidism is an endocrine disease where the thyroid gland is underactive, causing a dog to have a slow metabolism. Dogs with hypothyroidism tend to gain weight and have dull, thin fur.

sick jack russell
Image Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

What to Do About It

If you suspect your dog might be sick, you should bring your dog to the veterinarian. It is important to share your information and concerns since thyroid screening tests are not part of the basic blood test panels. The vet will collect a blood sample and screen using the total thyroxin (TT4) level test. This is the first of several tests used to diagnose hypothyroidism. While this disease does not have a definitive cure, management thyroid hormone replacement treatments are available.

4. Circulatory Function

Your dog’s circulatory system could also be the culprit for cold ears if it isn’t working correctly, and, unlike the other causes, this one can be serious. Rest assured that this cause is rare. Most likely, your dog’s cold ears are being caused by something else, but in some cases, it could be their circulatory system.

The heart is the central piece of the circulatory system and the first place to look when it’s not working properly. If your dog’s heart isn’t pumping blood as efficiently, the first places you’ll see the signs are in the tail, paws, and ears.

Your dog’s circulatory system could be struggling due to several underlying conditions. Heart problems, anemia, and internal bleeding could all be the root cause of circulation issues.

Sick French Bulldog
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

What to Do About It

You must seek a veterinarian’s opinion if you think your dog’s cold ears could be caused by circulation issues. Getting a professional opinion is the first step for dealing with whatever may be affecting your dog’s circulation.

Even if your buddy’s circulatory system is malfunctioning, some treatments can help manage the problem. If your dog has heart disease, some medications can help treat most conditions, and some lifestyle changes can go a long way to restoring your dog to a normal, happy life.

If a tumor or internal bleeding is causing the problem, surgical intervention is often required. The good news is if the surgery is successful, your dog will usually return to normal life afterward.

Divider 2


Your dog’s cold ears are most likely being caused by something benign and easy to deal with. Some warm compresses and a bunch of cozy towels and blankets will usually do the trick.

If the problem persists or your dog shows other, more serious signs combined with cold ears, it is time for a trip to the vet. There is no replacement for a professional medical opinion, and your vet can put you and your dog back on the right track.

Featured Image Credit: Chamois huntress, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database