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How Cold is Too Cold for Your Dog?

We all know that getting outside to play is a great way to connect with our dogs and expend energy! But is it too cold to play outside in the winter months?

Absolutely not! It’s just important to make sure that your pup is protected from the elements if they need it.

Dogs get cold just like we do. If they don’t have a thick fur coat to keep them warm, they may get cold outside. Some dogs, like Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies, are bred for cold weather work. However, other dogs who are small or have thin coats (think Chihuahuas or Greyhounds), need to be protected from the cold.

PC: @adrian_starzynski
PC: @adrian_starzynski

How cold is too cold?

Generally, temperatures at or above 45°F will not require any special sweater or coat. When temperatures start to fall below 45°F, some cold-averse breeds will get uncomfortable and will need protection. For owners of small breeds, puppies, senior dogs, or thin haired breeds, anytime the temperature outside feels at or below 32°F, pull out the sweaters or coats! Once it drops to below 20°F, all dog owners should at least be aware of their dog’s well-being and look for signs that your dog is too cold, even if they are a breed that can take the cold weather.

TIP: Don’t feel like you have to wait until it gets down to 45°F to put a coat on your dog. If you notice that your dog is more comfortable outside in 60°F weather with a coat, keep it on him.

Does my dog need a coat or sweater to go outside?

PC: @friendwithbella_junior
PC: @friendwithbella_junior

It depends on the breed of dog. Most dogs will be ok in the elements for short periods, but there are three factors that will determine if your dog needs a coat to stay warm:

1. Dogs with fine hair and thin body types, like Greyhounds or Whippets will need a coat to go outside in cold weather.

2. Small dogs (including puppies) generally need a coat for a walk or for playtime outside. They can’t generate the same body heat that large dogs can and their bellies have a greater chance of brushing against the snow.

3. Older dogs with weaker immune systems or arthritis will need a coat. Their joints will feel better when they are kept warm, so a coat indoors in colder weather is a good idea for these dogs as well.

Bigger dog breeds like Labrador’s, Huskies, or Golden Retrievers with thicker coats generally will not need a coat or sweater for playing or walking in the snow. If your dog has long hair, snow can quickly pack in the hair so make sure to check your dog frequently and remove snow if necessary.

Does my dog need boots to play outside?

PC: @adeerandherfox
PC: @adeerandherfox

Probably not. Your dog may feel awkward in the boots and it may take away from his comfort playing or going potty outdoors. But, there are a few exceptions.

1. If your dog has an injury, it will need to be protected. Cuts and scrapes are best kept clean and dry, and a boot on the affected paw or leg will keep it from getting exposed to the elements.

2. If you live in an area where de-icers are used to melt snow and ice, boots will protect your dog’s paws. Some of these compounds will burn a pets paws and can be dangerous if consumed. There are pet safe de-icers available so check with your community on which one they are using, and always wipe off your dogs paws after being outside.

3. If you are an outdoor enthusiast and you go on long outdoor adventures with your pups, their paws may need some protection.

How will I know if they are too cold?

PC: @bullington213
PC: @bullington213

Like us, a cold dog will show signs that they are cold. Keep an eye out for behaviors like shivering, acting anxious, whining, or slowing down. If they start to search out a warm place to lie down or hold up one or more paws, it is probably a good time to head inside and warm up.

Remember, dogs can get cold just like us! Make sure you know your dog and his behavior when he gets too cold! You may find out that a sweater or coat is just what he needs to enjoy playing in the snow!