French Bulldogs do get cold in winter, particularly at night. They are sensitive to cold weather, don’t particularly like colder temperatures, and are prone to getting colds easily.
In this guide to French Bulldogs and cold weather I am going to explain why Frenchies get colds, how you can keep them warm in winter, and what safety tips you need to take to ensure their health and comfort.
Make yourself a coffee, as there’s a lot to go into here. It’s imperative reading for anybody who already owns a Frenchie or is thinking about getting one. This is particularly relevant if you don’t live in warmer climates.
Why Frenchies find can’t tolerate cold weather very well
Do French Bulldogs get cold? Yes, Frenchies do get cold in winter. They are sensitive to cold weather because of their brachycephalic breed. Their bodies lose heat quicker that it can be replaced, and the elongated soft palate results in breathing issues. Their short coats also don’t offer much winter warmth and cold protection.
The bottom line is this; Frenchies are not genetically designed to be outdoor dogs (read more). These genetics also work the other way too as they will suffer in hot weather as well. You can read up on how to keep a Frenchie cool elsewhere in the blog.
French Bulldogs are very sensitive to cold weather can be prone to dehydration and hypothermia. This breed needs extra care and attention in cold winter temperatures, and above all, need a warm bed and home.
Signs your Frenchie is cold
There are typical warning signs to look out for in cold weather. If you see any of the following symptoms or behaviour, it means your French Bulldog is cold and you need to tak action.
- Refusal to go outside
- Making a nest, for example pulling at blankets or burrowing in bed
- Has the shivers
- Shows lethargy
- Lifts paws off the ground when outside
- Barking or whining
In more serious cases, Frenchies can develop hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia is fatal, leading to a lack of blood circulation, weakness of the body, stiffened muscles, kidney failure and a slowed heartbeat.
Signs of hypothermia include:
- Shivering and trembling
- Slowing down, lack of movement, and trouble walking
- Cold skin and fur
- Slowed down heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Blue or pale gums and inner eyelids
- Breathing problems
Those are the big warnings out the way, but please don’t panic. Providing you take special care during the cold winter months, it’s unlikely this will happen to your own Frenchie.
However, many French Bulldogs will develop more minor symptoms. Common colds aren’t actually that unusual. Lower down the page you can see what cold symptoms to look out for and how to treat a Frenchie cold should you suspect your dog has one.
How cold is too cold for a Frenchie?
If you’re wondering what temperature is too cold for a French Bulldog, temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) can be too cold for a Frenchie. If your dog is older or a puppy, or there’s wet weather is present, the risks can also be higher.
If at any point you notice your Frenchie starting to shiver or hold their paws off the ground, this means it is too cold for them to cope with.
I developed an infographic which displays the temperature ranges at which your French Bulldog should be comfortable in. The temperatures to pay particular attention to are the green to blue ranges – this is when your French Bulldog can get cold easily, where the risk to health starts to increase.
Don’t be too alarmed by the cold temperature ranges shown in the infographic above. We’ve taken Claude out in the green and turquoise ranges during wintertime, but there are some key considerations – the main ones being, just go for short walks, be prepared, and have the right gear.
How to keep your French Bulldog warm in cold weather
And now for the crux of the advice; how to keep your French Bulldog warm, and what to do when the cold weather hits. It includes some winter walking tips for Frenchies and suggestions on what gear you might want to invest in.
1. Winter health check
I’ve already mentioned that older dogs and French Bulldog puppies are more at risk of cold weather. It’s also true with a dog that has a pre-existing medical condition is more inclined to become ill.
Before winter comes, make sure that your Frenchie has had a health check. This will let your vet check for signs of any potential health issues that could become worse once the colder temperatures set in.
2. Move their bed and supply more bedding
Aside from walking outside in the winter (and more on that shortly) most Frenchies will feel the cold more at night. French Bulldogs get cold at night as this is when the temperature drops most.
To keep your Frenchie warm at night, think about where you place their bed. Is it near a door or draft? If it is, move to a warmer spot in the house.
However, don’t place the bed too near a heater or radiator as this can also lead to problems. Frenchies don’t cope well with heat either, so keep the distance a little but do offer them more bedding.
3. Don’t overfeed them
We’ve all heard the expression about “feeding a cold” and there is some truth in that. But, try to keep your dog’s weight to a normal level.
The time you spend outdoors walking is going to reduce in the winter months, so it can be easy for your Frenchie to put on weight. You might also be tempted to feed them more.
Whilst an increase in food can keep their energy levels up in colder temperatures, there’s a fine balance to be kept. Dog obesity can result in muscle problems and even dog diabetes.
4. Make sure their drinking water isn’t too cold
Very cold water can result in a sore throat and then lead onto further cold symptoms. Place your Frenchie’s bowl in a warmer spot in the house.
The water coming out of your taps has probably come through semi-frozen pipes so is going to be a lot colder than normal. Use tepid water instead.
5. Stay indoors when it’s too cold
Your Frenchie might be champing at the bit to go outdoors but you need to temper that enthusiasm by using common sense.
Instead of going for a walk, try to wear them out indoors. We use a laser pen toy with Claude. He chases it up and down the kitchen. This keeps him exercised when it’s way too cold to go outside and keeps his fitness levels up.
6. Use potty training pads indoors
The puppy training pads you probably had when they were younger are ideal for this, and older dogs will have the muscle memory of how to use them. Here are some potty pads on Amazon.
7. Use a collar and chip
If it’s not too cold and you do go outdoors for walks, then make sure your Frenchie has a named collar and chip.
The winter is a prime time for dogs to get lost. It is commonly due to a combination of the dark nights, snow, and their excitement of playing in this unusual environment.
8. Buy a winter jacket for your Frenchie
Over the last 5 years we’ve seen a wide range of winter clothing come to market that has been specifically designed for Frenchies. For example, you can buy winter jackets and boots now, all of which offer superb protection for winter walking.
Two jackets that can really help you keep your Frenchie warm during colder temperatures are shown below.
Gooby padded winter coat
This won’t win any style awards, but that’s not really the point. It’s extremely warm and is rated very highly by Frenchie owners the world over. You can attach a leash or lead to it easily, it’s water resistant, has a simply to use zipper, and offers a snug fit.
Before you buy, make sure you measure your pup up properly. There is information and prices on the Amazon page.
Didog reflective winter coat
My second recommendation is the Didog winter jacket. What I like most about it is the reflective material. This should help you see your dog on a dark winter’s night and also ensure cars see them before it’s too late.
It’s just as warm as the Gooby, it’s all down to personal preference on what you buy. Keep your Frenchie warm this winter just like others have done… you can read the Amazon reviews here.
Want more advice on jackets?
If you want to see more suggestions on clothing that can help keep your Frenchie warm, check out these additional winter coats. That page also includes a guide on how to train your dog so he gets used to wearing it!
9. Don’t forget winter paw protection
Check your Frenchie’s paws constantly over the winter. In extreme cold weather, paws can become cracked and damage, leading to a lot of pain. You need to keep their paws warm if you’re walking on snow and ice.
If you want to see the different types of paw protection on offer, click here for my guide to Frenchie winter boots.
10. Trim nails to stop skidding and injury
If you’re not interested in winter boots, or don’t think it’s cold enough to warrant them, you still need to do some form of paw maintenance. Primarily this relates to your dogs nails.
Longer nails can be hazardous on ice. If they’re not trimmed can result in your Frenchie skidding and sliding, suffering a potential winter injury.
11. Avoid street salt and chemicals such as anti-freeze
And with those winter walks, be really careful about wear you walk your dog when snow and ice has developed. With road gritters out, salt being laid, and anti-freeze in constant use, it’s puts your dog at increased risk of paw burn or poisoning from paw licking.
Wintertime means lot of nasty and toxic chemicals being used. If you have paw protection this won’t be an issue obviously.
12. Don’t let them eat snow
Your Frenchie is bound to love snow. It’s an unusual feeling for them, and they love to roll and around and run in it… but they can also be inclined to eating it. Whilst this might appear to be harmless, the opposite can actually be true.
The reason being; those winter chemicals and salt I spoke of can be hidden in snow. Other animal faeces can also be in there. Eating anything like this is one sure fire way your Frenchie can get ill in the cold weather.
13. Don’t let them get wet
Cold weather combined with wet and damp is the biggest risk in winter. Your Frenchie is going to get wet if it’s snowing and raining. It’s your job to make sure that if they get damp, you fix it up quick.
When you get home give them a wipe down and try to remove any snow stuck in their fur and paws. If left if could lead to hypothermia or in less serious cases, cold symptoms.
14. Don’t leave them in your car
We all know how dangerous cars can be in summer, but it’s equally true in winter too. A cold car can be a killer so don’t leave your beloved pup in your vehicle.
15. How to keep your French Bulldog warm at night
I’ve already touched on a few ideas on how to keep your Frenchie warm in winter, some of which can be used at night too. I wanted to offer a few more tips here as well, as once night falls, the temperature will drop.
- Place their bed away from drafts and out of cold rooms
- Use a (not too) hot water bottle
- Use a bed that is raised off the floor
- Consider letting them sleep on your bed
- Give them more bedding
- Place bedding in doughnut ring for them to nest in
- Don’t place them too close to a heater
Handy Hint: If you want more tips on how to keep your dog warm at night, read this ultimate guide to winter sleeping and warmth.
French Bulldog cold symptoms
If you believe that your Frenchie has become ill due to the cold winter weather and temperatures, it might be that he actually has a slight cold. It can start off with a few sniffles and sneezes – just like colds do in humans.
But, French Bulldog cold symptoms can quickly develop into something more serious.
I explained earlier why Frenchies find it hard to adapt in winter due to their brachycephalic syndrome. To recap though, the cavities in their skull are very compact meaning mucus will create blockages more easily.
This can then lead onto a more serious health problem such as dehydration, hypothermia, or even pneumonia. With that in mind, it’s important to recognise the cold and flu symptoms in your Frenchie before it develops further. Here’s what to look for.
- Runny nose and nasal discharge (see what else this can mean)
- Runny or watery eyes
- Sneezing (sometimes referred to as the Frenchie reverse sneeze)
- Wheezing or wet-sounding cough
- Lack of appetite
- Warm ears
- Trouble breathing normally
- General lethargy
Should you worry about slight sniffles?
Most Frenchies will develop cold symptoms at some point in their life, particularly over the winter months. However, in most cases, some minor sniffles and a wet nose are nothing to worry about.
If the sniffles then further develop into a cough, this is the sign that your French Bulldog has a cold that will may need treatment from the vet.
To check, place your ear against your Frenchie’s chest to listen for any strange sounds – typically it should sound like clear breathing, if not and you hear a rattle it could mean he has a cold and mucus on the chest.
However, I know of Frenchie owners who actually treat French Bulldog colds themselves and use a dog nebulizer when their pup gets chesty. You can see which one they recommend in the section below on how to treat cold symptoms.
How to treat a French Bulldog with a cold
Here’s how to treat a French Bulldog cold. This advice can help to stave off a serious illness. For full disclosure, I have no veterinary qualifications, but do have a friend who is a vet who advised me on these best practices for Frenchie cold treatment.
1. Encourage fluid intake
Frenchies can become dehydrated in cold weather. You should ensure that your pup gets enough fluid on board. It can be hard… sick dogs sometimes won’t want to drink.
To encourage your Frenchie to take on more fluids, add some chicken broth to their water bowl, just make sure it’s a low in salt variety. This will help to ensure their nasal passages don’t get even more blocked.
2. Add extra nutrition to their food
Just like drink, your poorly pup may also go completely off their food. This can be dangerous as they need to keep their strength up.
My vet recommended adding some extra nutritional value into feeding time. This can include foods such as brown rice and boiled chicken.
3. Extra dietary supplements
You can also try adding some supplements into the food to help cure the cold symptoms. These can include items such as coconut oil, cinnamon, and honey.
Vets say that these supplements can aid in cold recovery as they will help to improve the immune system and can also act as a natural cough medicine.
4. Limit outdoors time and maximise rest
Whilst your Frenchie might still want to get outside, try to limit how much time they are exposed to cold weather temperatures. I would limit it to just going outdoors for quick toilet breaks.
If your Frenchie has a really bad cold, you might want to invest in some puppy pads to completely avoid going outside all together. You can see which ones I recommend in my recommended cold weather gear section further up this page.
Your Frenchie will also need time to rest and recuperate from the cold symptoms, so any form of over exertion or play time should be reduced significantly.
5. Love and affection
What’s the one thing that made you feel better when you had a cold as a kid? It was cuddles and affection from your parents… and Frenchies can be just the same.
Offer your pup plenty of love, but if they simply aren’t up for it, also give them the space they might need.
6. Hot water bottle
And if it’s space they need but you’re still concerned that they’re simply not warm enough, then why not try a water bottle in the dog bed?
Just make sure it’s not too hot before you place it in with them. I can guarantee you though; your Frenchie will love the warmth given off and it should aid with a speedy recovery.
7. Dog nebulizer
Before I wrote this guide to French Bulldogs and cold weather, I had no idea that you could get nebulizers for dogs. My vet put me onto this one and told me that many owners will manage their dog’s cold themselves using one of these.
I’ve since spoken to owners who swear by them. The AeroDawg nebulizer is designed for smaller dog breeds and can help them breathe a lot more easily with the onset of cold symptoms.
To see what other dog owners have to say and a rundown on how it works, check out the Amazon reviews.
8. Steam vaporizer
Just like us, steam vaporizers can help to clear your dog’s bronchial tubes and help relieve many French Bulldog cold symptoms, making them breathe so much easier.
Place the vaporizer near to your dog’s bed, but not too close that they could knock it over.
9. Frenchie nose balm
If your Frenchie has the former, try some nose balm to help soothe the dry cracks. One of the best products on the market is Snout Magic (see Amazon prices). It’s 100% organic and offers good relief.
When you should call the vet
With more serious symptoms there’s only so far you can go with treating your French Bulldog’s cold. If you are at all worried that they aren’t showing signs of getting better, or the chest starts to rattle with coughing, it’s probably vet time.
Handy Hint: With puppies and more senior dogs you should always go to a vet when they develop a cold. At these ages they will be more susceptible to health problems. They have weaker immune systems compared to health adult dogs.
You should take your cold Frenchie to a vet if you see any of the following symptoms or problems:
- Your Frenchies stop taking on fluids
- Your Frenchie appears to be in constant pain
- Your Frenchie has a rattling chest sound
This is what my vet friend said about how they would treat a cold in more serious cases.
“We often have owners bring their dogs in during wintertime. It’s peak time for sure. We treat French Bulldogs with colds just like we do any other dog; with a small course of antibiotics. This works by killing bacteria and helping them build up their immune system until their cold has subsided.”
Our personal experience
We’ve been really lucky with Claude as he’s never had a cold, and whilst he is sensitive to cold weather, we’ve always been very careful to limit his time outdoors during winter.
It’s just about to get a lot colder where we live in the UK, and a very harsh winter is being predicted. We’ve not invested in cold weather gear over the last couple of years due to the weather being milder, but that’s going to change in the next month or so.
If you scroll a bit further up the page, you can see all the clothing and gear we’re recommending and buying ourselves. French Bulldogs do get cold easy, so as responsible owners we all need to be prepared.
To end on a lighter note, we think our our Frenchie likes cold weather (well, the snow at least). I’ve written a guide to Frenchies and snow and you can see a video of Claude playing in snow for the first time below.
I hope you’ve found this guide to French Bulldogs and cold weather useful. If you are an owner or thinking about getting one of these loveable dogs, be so careful in the winter months.
There are many pros and cons to owning a Frenchie (read them all here), and one of the downsides is without doubt their intolerance to cold weather conditions.
Whilst Frenchies can tolerate cold weather to a degree, there is a tipping point at which you should pay more attention – you can see those temperature ranges in the graphic higher up in this guide.
Don’t be afraid to walk them if the temperature is ok, but just be mindful that you might need to invest in some Frenchie gear to make the experience more comfortable for them.