Keep Dogs Safe This Winter With These Cold Weather Tips

We all know dogs love spending time outside, whether taking a good walk, playing in the yard, or romping with four-legged friends at the dog park, but what about in the winter months? How cold is too cold for dogs to be outside? When does a fun frolic become risky? In truth, it depends on a number of factors so let’s sort out how cold is too cold for dogs.

how cold is too cold for dogs
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How Cold Is Too Cold: Depends On The Dog

Just like with people, some dogs tolerate the cold better than others. While one dog might be overjoyed to roll in the snow, another might not even want to step foot outside. Here are some of the factors that affect cold tolerance:

Coat Type: The thick, double-layered coats of dogs like Siberian Huskies, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountain Dogs tend to be the most cold-tolerant. On the other hand, dogs like Greyhounds, German Shorthaired Pointers, or American Pit Bull Terriers who have short, thin coats will have a more difficult time in colder weather.

Size: Smaller dogs and toy breeds have a harder time in the cold. They tend to lose body heat faster than larger dogs. In deeper snow, small dogs often are more in contact with the snow, than larger dogs. If the snow reaches their chest and makes them cold and wet, they are more at risk in colder temperatures.

Weight: Thinner dogs generally get colder faster than heavier dogs because body fat is a good insulator. BUT this doesn’t mean you should fatten your pup up for the winter! There are greater health risks for overweight dogs than any warmth benefit of a little extra fat.

Age & Health: Older dogs, puppies, and sick dogs have weaker immune systems and might not be able to generate or retain body heat compared to healthy dogs or dogs in the prime of their life. These dogs normally need assistance to help stay warm, such as a dog coat or jacket.

cold weather and dogs
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How Cold Is Too Cold: Depends On The Weather

Once you have an idea of how likely your dog can tolerate chilly conditions, you’ll also want to keep an eye on the weather. Temperature, wind chill, snow, rain, and cloud cover also play a role in cold weather safety. Here’s a look at the temperatures that affect how cold is too cold for dogs.

Cold Temperature Breakdown:

According to PetMD, here are the temperatures to know to help keep your dog safe in the cold:

Above 45°F – Should not become a problem for most dogs, but remember the size, age, and coat length matter.

Below 45°F – Some cold-averse dogs might begin to feel uncomfortable

Below 32°F – Owners of small dogs, dogs with short or thin coats, and/or very young, old, or sick dogs should pay close attention to their pet’s well-being

Below 20°F – All owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop hypothermia and frostbite

how cold weather affects dogs

See A Dog Left Out In The Cold?

If you come across a dog left outside in too cold of temperatures, the HSUS recommends that you “politely let the owner know you’re concerned. Some people genuinely don’t know the risk that cold weather poses to their pets, and will be quick to correct any problems you address.” If you are still concerned about the dog’s wellbeing, follow the HSUS steps to get the dog help: reporting wintertime neglect. Many states are now passing laws that protect dogs from being left outside in the cold and snow.

law protecting dogs left outside in the cold
Looking for a way to keep your best friend warm this winter?

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