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Is it too cold to walk your dog? How to check

How to check if it’s too cold outside to walk your dog amid winter storms

Brittany Miller
New York
Saturday 20 January 2024 12:21 GMT
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Related: Dog plays in snow as cold snap sends temperatures plummeting

With temperatures getting colder and colder amid the winter months, many pet owners may be wondering whether their furry friends are as cold as we are.

Despite the cold weather, it’s still necessary that dogs go outside for a walk and do their business. But with their layer of fur, it can be difficult to tell if man’s best friend is actually capable of withstanding the freezing temperatures. Here are some tips to determine whether or not it’s too cold outside to be walking your dog.

The specific temperature your dog can handle will vary depending on their breed, size, age, and health status. If your dog is on the smaller side, it’s likely that they can’t handle something under 10 degrees Fahrenheit. When a dog gets too cold, it can end up showing signs of hypothermia. If left untreated, hypothermia can lead to severe complications such as heart problems and kidney failure. In worst cases, it can even be fatal.

If you are going to take the risk and walk your dog, it’s important to look for specific signs during the walk. If your dog is shivering or trembling, for example, they might be cold as this is typically a way for pets to generate their own body heat. Another sign your dog is too cold is if they’re constantly stopping during the walk or moving slowly. Owners should also pay attention if their dog starts making any noises or showing other signs of stress, which could indicate that they’re cold.

Some dogs might try to hide and seek shelter if they’re too cold. An owner could also check their dog’s ears and body to see if they feel unusually cold.

Wasi Ashraf - the medical director at VEG Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York - told CBS News that she becomes “concerned” when dogs are out in cold weather if the temperature drops below freezing, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. “I’m really, really worried if it’s, like, under 20 [degrees Fahrenheit] for most average dogs,” Ashraf told the outlet. “But again, this kind of depends on what type of dog you have, and how well they’re gonna tolerate being outside.”

She advised limiting their exposure to only 10 to 15 minutes. Ashraf clarified that if you are wearing multiple layers and the weather is still too cold for you, then it can be safe to assume that your dog is also cold.

There are some extra precautions that can be taken to protect dogs as much as possible when they need to go outside. Consider getting your dog a winter jacket and placing booties on their feet to protect them from snow and chemical treatments in salt used for de-icing. If clothing isn’t an option, avoid walking your dog on ice patches and check their paws to ensure all salt from the roads or sidewalks is wiped off.

Dogs that need to be left outside should still have adequate access to shelter, and should be able to go indoors when they feel cold.

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