How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs to Hike or Walk Outside?

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Too Cold for Dogs to Hike or Walk
Caption: Snowy trail

It can be extremely uncomfortable for us to go out for walks when the temperature drops, but what about our canine friends? With so much pile-up snow on the ground and freezing temperatures in some areas, it can be uncomfortable for our dogs to go out too.

While it might be a little cold outside, that doesn’t mean your dog should be home all day! And now the question comes. How cold is too cold for your furkid? What is the right temperature for dogs to go on a hike or walk?

Read More: Top 17 Winter Dog Care and Safety Tips

How Cold is Too Cold for Dogs?

This is a commonly asked question by pet owners, and it can be tricky to answer. In fact, there is no steadfast rule about what temperature is too cold for your dog. Instead, you should consider their breed, size, weight, coat’s length, age, and if they have any health conditions.

However, Dr. Kim Smyth, a staff veterinarian with a pet insurance company, PetPlan, has created a cold-weather safety chart for dogs based on a dog’s body condition scale made by Tufts University. You can use this infographic as a general guideline to determine whether or not the temperature outside is safe enough for your dog to go out. 

Cold Weather Safety Chart for Dogs
Photo Credit: PetPlan

Should You Dress Your Dog for the Cold Temperatures

Every dog is different. Short-haired dogs are at a higher risk for cold-related injuries like frostbite and hypothermia because they can’t effectively maintain their body temperature. So, these dogs should be dressed in a dog sweater or coat with snow booties to keep them warm, which is especially true for small dogs with short hair like Chihuahuas.

And while pets with a long or double coat like Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies, and Alaskan Malamutes can handle cold weather well, they may still need to be dressed in winter clothes, depending on how cold outside is.

Other Things You Should Also Know When Walking Your Dog in Cold Weather

Consider other factors that can make the outside temperature feel much lower than what it actually is. For instance, when it is snowing or walking through deep snow or wet sleet. Also, wind chills can make it feel much colder. If the temperature is 15°F and the wind blows at 30 mph, you will feel like the temperature is -5°F.

Wind Chill Chart
Photo Credit: National Weather Service

Bottom Line

We all know that most dogs generally need 30 minutes of walk per day. But if it’s too cold outside, you would want to cut the walk short or just exercise your canine indoors. And the best piece of advice I can give is to use caution.

Make sure to keep your dog warm by dressing them in coats and boots when walking or going on hikes with your dog, and learn how to read their body language. If your pup is shivering, whining, lifting paws, or hunching, then it’s time to head back home. And if they are showing other more severe signs like weakness, lethargy, low heart and breathing rates, and dilated pupils, seek immediate medical attention.

As a responsible dog owner, it is your job to know when weather conditions are too dangerous for outdoor activities with your canine companions. You should not put them at risk of frostbite and hypothermia by being out in the cold all day long, even if they are dressed warmly!