When Is It Too Cold To Walk My Dog?
How to keep your pup safe during that winter weather ⛄
When that winter weather gets sooooo cold, you might be wondering if it’s still safe to take your dog outside. Just how cold is too cold for dogs to walk outdoors in the winter?
Of course, you don’t have much of a choice, since he has to go to the bathroom and get some exercise regardless of the weather.
So, in order to keep your dog — and his paws — safe and healthy, we spoke with Dr. Julian Rivera, a veterinarian at West Village Veterinary Hospital in New York City, to find out how to protect your pup in that super cold weather.
How cold is too cold for dogs to walk outside in the winter
“Some dogs are better suited to withstand cold weather … while others are very susceptible to drops in temperatures,” Dr. Rivera told The Dodo.
Breeds like Akitas, huskies or Bernese mountain dogs all have pretty thick coats, and probably don’t need extra protection in the winter.
But if your dog has a thinner coat — or barely any coat at all — one of the most important things to do before you take him out is to keep an eye on the temperature.
According to Dr. Rivera, you should bundle up your cold-intolerant dogs (which include breeds like greyhounds and Chihuahuas, or other pups who just don’t like the cold that much) when the temperature dips below 45 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 degrees Celsius.
Signs your dog is uncomfortable or too cold
The cold weather can affect your dog by irritating his paws thanks to the salt, snow and ice.
If your dog is too cold or uncomfortable, he could show signs like:
- Shivering or shaking
- Whining or barking
- Licking paws
- Lifting paws
- Tucked tail
Signs your dog is in hypothermic shock
The cold can also dramatically lower your dog’s body temperature to cause more serious complications like hypothermic shock.
“What this means is that their circulatory system is unable to keep up with the oxygen demands of the rest of the body due to the cold,” Dr. Rivera said.
A dog in hypothermic shock might show signs like:
- His body is cold to the touch
- Loss of consciousness
Hypothermic shock can be deadly, so if your dog is showing any of these symptoms, you need to go to the vet IMMEDIATELY.
“Their heart cannot properly contract and neither can their vessels. This leads to damage to the body tissues and life-threatening consequences,” Dr. Rivera explained.
The vet will help heal your dog by warming him up and giving him intravenous fluids. Plus, they’ll monitor his heart rate and electrical activity to make sure he’s safe and sound.
Tips for walking your dog in the cold
For starters, you could just keep those walks short and sweet. Limiting exposure will limit those negative effects, after all.
But if you’re going to be out in the cold a little longer, or if your dog’s fur is on the thinner side, Dr. Rivera recommends investing in winter apparel for your pup.
“Decking your dog out with cold weather gear such as boots or coats may be a good idea, especially if your dog has a thin coat or is a thin dog with little insulation to protect from the elements,” he said.
With some warm winter gear, it's possible to keep your dog safe while out on short walks this season.