We all know that a Labrador loves water and loves to take every opportunity to go swimming.
But what about in winter when it is cold? Can a Labrador go into cold water and swim in winter, or is it better to stop him?
It depends on how long a Labrador is in the water in winter. A few minutes are not a problem due to the nature of his coat. Under no circumstances should a Labrador swim in ice cold water for more than 5- 10 minutes. This can lead to fatal hypothermia.
How long can a Labrador stay in cold water
The Labrador is better protected from cold and water than many other dog breeds thanks to its dense, water-repellent coat. Its dense coat is also the reason why the Labrador sheds more than many other dog breeds.
So if your Labrador jumps into the cold water in winter, it is not a big problem at first, as long as he is not in the water for too long. His thick coat will provide him with some protection for about 5 – 10 minutes.
Normally, your Labrador does not need a coat in winter. But there are exceptions.
Why a Labrador can swim in winter!
What not everyone knows is that the Labrador originally comes from Canada, more specifically from the island of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is related to the Newfoundland, among others.
The average temperature over the year there is only 7 degrees Celsius (44,6 degrees fahrenheit). In winter it is on average 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees fahrenheit) and in summer about 15 degrees celsius (59 degrees fahrenheit). So it is cold.
So the Labrador is well adapted to cold weather.
At that time he was already a reliable helper of the fishermen and spent his day at and in the cold Atlantic Ocean.
His job was to help haul in the fishing nets or catch fish that fell off the hook.
Also his activity as a retriever of waterfowl in cold Canada or even in England prove that he is much more weatherproof and insensitive to cold than many other dog breeds.
From his original tasks you can also see that a Labrador needs more occupation than many other breeds.
Be careful with ice cold water
Even though the Labrador is adapted to cold weather and cold water won’t harm him, you should be careful with ice cold water.
If your Labrador jumps into the ice cold water for a short time and comes out after a few minutes will not harm him.
But swimming for long, sustained periods longer than 5 minutes can cause life-threatening hypothermia and frostbite.
Do not swim if the water is partially frozen
Under no circumstances should you let your Labrador into partially frozen water. Loose ice floes floating around are sharp and can injure your dog.
There is also the possibility that he will somehow get under the ice and not come out.
You should also avoid walking on frozen water until you are 100% sure the ice will hold your dog’s weight. To be on the safe side, only let your dog on ice surfaces that are also open to humans.
Signs of hypothermia
If your Labrador did stay in the icy water longer than intended, you should watch for signs of hypothermia.
Hypothermia is an extremely low body temperature.
The body temperature of a Labrador, or dogs in general, is usually 37.5 degrees Celsius to 39 degrees Celsius or 99 degrees fahrenheit to 102 degrees fahrenheit .
If the body temperature of your Labrador drops below 35 degrees Celsius / 95 degrees fahrenheit it is called hypothermia. There are 3 phases of hypothermia. The technical term is hypothermia.
|Drop of body temperature to||Degree of hypothermia|
|32 – 35 ° Celsius / 89,6 – 95° Fahrenheit||slight hypothermia|
|28 – 32 ° Celsius / 82,4 – 89,6° Fahrenheit||moderate hypothermia|
|below 28 ° Celsiu / below 82,4° Fahrenheit||severe hypothermia|
Since you probably don’t have a thermometer with you on a walk, you should watch for the following symptoms in your dog that may be signs of hypothermia.
- Your dog is shivering or has chills.
- If your Labrador has light-colored gums, they have poor circulation. This also indicates hypothermia.
- If your Labrador comes out of the water and stumbles, so loss of coordination is a sign of hypothermia.
- Rigid and dilated pupils are also a critical sign
- If your dog seems lethargic or absent, you should also act quickly.
What to do in case of hypothermia
If your Labrador shows signs of hypothermia, you need to act quickly. Depending on how far his body temperature has dropped and how cold it is, frostbite can occur.
- Dry him thoroughly first
- Move him to a warm place as soon as possible. If you are traveling by car, turn on the heater.
- You should warm your Labrador as soon as possible!
- Wrap him in a warm blanket
- Give him something warm (not hot) to drink.
In case of a severe temperature drop you should drive directly to your vet!
Checklist for the winter walk with your Labrador
Because a Labrador needs a lot of exercise you have to walk with him even in the cold winter. So if you know that he might jump into the water, you should be prepared for it.
Unless you want to be on the safe side and let him run without a leash, you should always have the following utensils in a backpack or at least in the car:
- A large towel to dry your Labrador directly.
- A warm blanket in the car to wrap him up in on the way home.
- Thermos of warm water or broth. Most dog owners always carry some water for their dog on a long walk anyway. Just make sure it’s not cold in the winter.
Conclusion: May a Labrador in winter in the water
Since a Labrador is well adapted to cold and humidity, he can swim in the water even in winter. Just make sure in case of ice cold water that he is only in the water for a few minutes and dry him again immediately after he comes out of the water.
makedonski2015-stock.adobe.com (Contributing image)