As winter weather starts to settle in, dog owners need to start thinking about how to keep their four-legged friends comfortable and safe on daily walks. It can be easy to dismiss the cold because your dog has fur, but the truth is that there does come a time when it’s unsafe to take your dog outside during the winter. But how cold is too cold? Here’s what you need to know.

Do Dogs Get Cold During Winter?

The short answer is yes. Dogs, even breeds that are made to be in the ice and snow, can still get cold. Their paw pads and noses, in particular, are at risk for irritation and frostbite. Even indoor dogs require a little bit of extra TLC during the winter months. You may have mastered how to approach an unfamiliar dog, but now it’s time to master winter dog health. Key staples to have include a pet-friendly paw balm, a reliable source of water, and insulated jackets or booties for dogs without heavy fur coats.

What Do I Need to Consider Before Bringing My Dog Outside During Winter?

There are a few important factors that you’ll need to consider before bringing your dog outside in the winter. When determining how cold is too cold for your pup, here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind.

Breed – Your dog’s breed is going to play a big role in determining how cold is too cold to be outside. Dogs like Siberian Huskies and Samoyeds have a thick, double-layered coat of fur because they were bred to withstand freezing conditions. Dogs like Greyhounds, Pitbulls, and Labs, on the other hand, will need some extra insulation and won’t be able to stay outside for long periods of time in the cold.

Wind Chill – The wind chill is another thing that you’ll want to check on before bringing your dog outside. If the wind chill is affecting the temperature and making it feel much colder, then you’re going to want to reconsider that walk.

Moisture – Snow might look pretty, but it can have a serious effect on your dog’s comfort while you’re outside during the winter. If moisture is allowed to soak into their fur, they could become susceptible to hypothermia. Moisture draws heat out from the body as it evaporates. So if it’s snowing outside, try to wait until after it has stopped to take your walk.

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Cold?

If your dog loves to be outside in the snow, it’s critical to know when they’ve had enough and need to come inside. Some key signs to look out for include:

  • Whining
  • Shivering
  • Slowing down
  • Signs of muscle weakness
  • Burrowing
If your dog starts showing any of these signs, it’s time to get them inside as soon as possible. It may be wise to call your veterinarian or bring your pet into your local pet hospital if these symptoms don’t subside shortly after you get your pet inside.

If you’re still struggling to determine whether it’s too cold outside for your pet, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether it’s too cold for you to be outside. If you’re not comfortable going outside, then your dog certainly won’t be.

At Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center we are happy to provide a wide range of veterinary specialty and emergency services. It is important to have a “primary care” veterinarian to keep your new family member healthy and happy with routine vaccinations and health checks. But if you find yourself in the midst of a veterinary emergency, our team of experienced veterinarians is here to help. When it comes to visiting animal hospitals, we understand that the experience can be full of stress and worry, so we aim to make things as simple as possible. For more information, get in touch with one of our experts today.