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When is it too cold to walk your dog?

The threshold for when it's too cold to walk your dog may differ depending on a dog's coat, size or age.
When is it too cold to walk your dog?
Posted at 6:45 AM, Feb 12, 2024

Wintertime leaves many pet owners with a quandary: How can their dog get the outdoor activity they need in such cold weather? Is it even safe to walk them, or is it possible for temperatures to be too low for a dog to enjoy time outdoors safely?

In order to spare your pup the sting of too-cold temperatures, we created this handy chart based on a set of guidelines drawn up by experts at Tufts University. This color-coded graphic displays how risky the winter weather can be for dogs of all different sizes. It even takes into account whether conditions are wet in addition to being cold.

It could definitely be helpful to print this out and tack it up someplace where it’ll be easy to consult before heading outside on chilly days.

Below are some other tips that can help keep your dog safe when they’re outside in winter:

No diving

Don’t let your pup dive into deep snow. While it’s always fun to see a dog jump headfirst into a big pile of snow, it could be dangerous. There might be a hole or dangerous object buried in deep snow drifts, so keep your pup safe by making sure they only play in shallow snow and areas that you know are clear of debris and potential risks.

Use bright toys

Easy-to-see toys are a must when playing with your dog in the snow. Even if you are playing in the sunshine, it can be hard to detect toys in the snow. Use neon or brightly colored toys that will be easy for your dog (and you) to see, so that you won’t have to dig in thick, wet snow to find them.

Keep your dog cozy (and cute!)

Bundle up. If they need it, give your dog an extra layer of warmth with a cozy coat for dogs. The best dog coat for your pup will depend on their size and breed, but any coat you choose should allow for a customized fit to avoid chafing. Look for a coat that will be warming on the inside (fleece-lined coats are a good option) and water-repellent on the outside — because staying dry is critical to staying warm.

For an added layer with a personal touch, you can even fashion your own little dog sweater out of an old sweater or pair of sweatpants — no sewing required!

And don’t forget snow booties to protect your pup’s paws. When shopping for dog booties, make sure the soles are flexible and that the material provides good traction. Look for boots that are water resistant and have adjustable straps. Many pups don’t like to have anything attached to their paws, so comfort is key when selecting dog booties.

How to tell if your dog really is too cold

In the poignant words of Outkast, what’s cooler than being cool? Yes, that’s right: “ice cold.” And it is not OK to let even the coolest dog reach that level of chill.

As is the case for humans, icy cold temperatures can be dangerous for dogs and can even lead to hypothermia or frostbite.

Be on the lookout for these signs that the weather outside is genuinely frightful for your dog:

- They’re shivering or shaking

- They’re barking or whining

- They repeatedly lift their paws up off the ground

- They’re tucking their tail and hunching over

- They resist continuing the walk or try to get you to go back home

- They’re trying to find shelter

These are all signs that you should quickly get that pup back indoors — and maybe even snuggle up with them in a human-sized dog bed until you’re both feeling warm and cozy again!

This story originally appeared on Simplemost.

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