Most people are aware that it is dangerous to take their dog for a walk when the outdoor air temperature or the pavement temperature is excessively hot. However, did you know there are plenty of dangers that can crop up when it is too cold? In some situations, the outdoor temperature gets so cold that taking your dog for a walk isn't safe.
So, how cold is too cold to walk a dog? Are there steps you can take to keep your dog safe? Keep reading to find out.
How Cold Is Too Cold to Walk a Dog?
It would be great if there were a single temperature that you could be on the lookout for to keep your dog safe. However, this isn’t the case. The temperature where it becomes dangerous for dogs varies depending on a number of different factors.
Despite this, you should generally be on your guard when the temperature starts to dip below 45°F. This temperature won’t always be dangerous, but as it gets colder, it can start to present more and more danger. If ignored, low temperatures have the potential to cause hypothermia.
Factors Impacting Individual Dogs in the Cold
While you can start looking out for your dog around 45°F, different dogs are more or less robust than others. So, you should be aware of which end of the spectrum your dog falls on. This will let you know to what degree the temperature will impact them.
The size of your dog has a large impact on how they handle the cold. In general, larger dogs tend to have an easier time in the cold than smaller ones. So, your German shepherd might be completely fine in colder weather while your beagle is struggling.
Different dog breeds have different styles of coat. Some have thick and luscious coats that will insulate them from the cold. Others have thin coats that provide a lot less protection. You need to pay attention to how insulated your dog is so that you can be aware of how the cold impacts them.
Don’t just go off of the breed, either. You may read something that says St. Bernards have very thick coats and can easily handle the cold weather. This is true in general, but if you trim your St. Bernard’s coat or if it is thin for some other reason, then it won’t be true for your pet. Keep your individual circumstances in mind and make sure to consider these factors.
In general, older dogs have trouble regulating many aspects of their body. This includes the ability to regulate temperature. So, your older dogs will handle cold weather much worse than your younger ones.
Your doctor would never want you to head out into the snow on a cold day if you were suffering from an illness. The same advice is true when it comes to dogs.
Dogs who are suffering from an illness, like diabetes or kidney problems, will be at greater risk when they go out in the cold. Their bodies are focused on keeping them healthy despite their problems and, thus, can devote fewer resources to fighting off the effects of the cold. On top of this, if they get sick from the cold, they will be in even more danger because it will add to the health issues they are already struggling with.
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Factors Impacting Individual Days in the Cold
Your dog isn’t the only factor to consider when deciding if it is too cold out. You also need to look at what the day looks like.
The temperature outside could read one thing, but the wind chill will effectively make it something else entirely. If it feels colder, your dog will be more affected.
Snow and Rain
If your dog is wet, they will be colder than if they were dry. They can get wet by walking around in the snow or rain or rolling around on ground covered in snow or water. If any of this happens, you need to be more cautious.
Related: 10 Tips for Winterizing Your Pet
Even if the temperature is freezing cold out, your dog will generally be alright for a few minutes. However, if they stay out for long periods of time, even a slight chill can be dangerous. When you are concerned about the weather, try to keep your time spent outside to around 10-15 minutes or less.
Signs Indicating Your Dog Is Too Cold
With all of this in mind, you can have some idea of how cold is too cold. However, you can also look for signs that your dog will display. These signs indicate they are struggling and that you should head back inside soon and stick to indoor activities for the day.
These signs include:
- Altered breathing
- Slower movements
- Licking paws
- Tucked tail
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What to Do When It Is Too Cold for Your Dog
When it is too cold for your dog, make sure to follow a few general guidelines.
- Only stay outside for brief periods.
- Prevent your dog from eating snow. It can potentially contain chemicals used to melt ice and is dangerous for them.
- Do a warm-up before you go outside by getting them to run around inside.
- Try to go out at the warmest point of the day.
- Have them wear a sweater, boots, or other piece of clothing when going out.
- Make sure they are warm when they come back inside by putting them on a warm blanket.
- Dry your pet off completely when they come inside.
- Be on the lookout for any pain your dog is dealing with, as arthritis and other pains are typically more severe in the winter.
- Use gentle cleaning products when you bathe your pet to avoid washing away the helpful oils in their coat.
Keeping Your Dog Safe in Cold Weather
Your dog is at greater risk in the winter, so you must be careful. Watch out if your dog is particularly vulnerable or if the day is presenting more of a risk than normal. In these cases, make sure to follow best practices so that you can keep your pet healthy and safe.
Related: Winter Activities With Your Dog
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