How cold is too cold?

With the cold snap, you may be asking how cold is too cold for a dog walk. We have answers!

Taking proper precautions such as a putting a coat on your dog and limiting time outside lessens the likelihood of hypothermia and other cold-weather dangers.

When the temperature drops below 45°, some dogs need help staying warm. Many already have enough fur to get out and play without extra gear. There are exceptions to this rule, however, so consider your pet’s size, background, and hair length.

Black dog with winter gear

For example, if your dog weighs less than 22 pounds or is shorter than 16 inches at the shoulder, then he should have a coat. And we’re not just saying that ‘cause they rock them so hard. Smaller dogs have a harder time retaining body heat.

If your dog is short-haired, then he’ll definitely appreciate an extra layer on cold days. Breeds from warmer climates, such as Chihuahuas, also need coats on wintry days. Remember to take the clothes off indoors (and only use when necessary), because doggos do overheat easily.

When To Say “No”

As temperatures drop, there comes a point when it’s no longer safe for your dog to be outside for almost any period of the time. This chart shows the temperature ranges where your dog is at risk, based on size. You’ll also need to consider your dog’s age and overall health. Two dogs may be the same size, but the cold will have a harsher effect on a senior dog compared to a 1-year-old pup.

Along with the temperature, wind, and precipitation (freezing rain, snow or sleet) need to be factored in to your decision about taking your dog out. If in doubt, it’s best to overestimate the conditions instead of assuming your dog will be okay and then discovering otherwise, mid-walk. At Saving Grace, we’re overly cautious in cold weather and it’s highly unusual for any of our dogs to develop hypothermia during their short walk or bio break.

Take Care of You Too

We want doggies and humans to enjoy walks together and to be safe! Make sure you’re bundled up as well. A warm coat, hat and gloves are a given, while a scarf around the lower part of your face makes all the difference against sharp winds and biting cold. And there are wonderful performance fabrics for layering and outerwear–both warm and lightweight.

REI has some excellent tips for keeping warm while in the great outdoors. Number eight will be easy as you’ll always have a happy volunteers to present a warm belly.

In short, your dog loves spending time with you outside, and winter is no exception. With careful preparation, you and your best bud can enjoy the magic of winter while staying safe and warm.

Does your dog want to make new friends while you’re away at work this winter?
See if our Pack Walks might be a good fit.*

* Doggie snowball fights optional.

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