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How Cold is Too Cold to Walk My Dog?

Canadian winters- an inevitability and something we can’t escape. But what about your furry pal? Do they shiver at the sign of snow, or does the snow turn them into an Energizer bunny as soon as they set foot on the white stuff?

The age old question is how cold is too cold, and what is safe? How long should I take my dog out for, or should they just go out to pee today?

The answer is not as straight forward as you might think. Different breeds have different tolerances to snow and cold. As a rule of thumb:

  • Dogs with longer coats and double coats can tolerate the cold better than short-haired, single coated dogs

  • Overweight dogs have extra insulation and can stay warmer than their more slender counterparts

  • Adult dogs have greater cold resistance than puppies and senior dogs

Weather also plays a factor. Dogs will fare much better on a clear sunny day with little wind vs. a windy day with blowing snow. Going out in freezing rain should be avoided at any time as it is dangerous.

What About Booties?

Booties are a great idea in theory, but have you ever tried to put them on, or worse keep them on your dog? Finding a pair that actually stays on for a whole walk is challenging.

If your dog tolerates them and you can find a pair that fits and stays on, they are a really great defense against salt and other dangerous snow melting chemicals. If your dog doesn’t like booties, encourage them to walk beside the salted/chemically laden sidewalk or pathway. Or go to a park or forested area that isn’t salted.

What About Coats?

Short haired, singled coated dogs will thank you for putting a coat on them. There are various thicknesses of insulation, so you may even want to buy a light coat for less cold days, and more of a parka for really cold days.

How Can I Make Winter Safer for My Dog?

  • Watch your pet outside. If they are lifting paws or shivering, bring them in.

  • Shovel a clear path for ‘potty time’ when it gets really cold. If possible, locate this space close to the door to minimize the time your dog spends outside in very cold weather, especially if you have a small dog.

  • Keep your pet on a leash (except in off-leash areas) for safety. Remember: slippery roads means cars can't stop as fast. It also only takes a split second for a dog to investigate a dangerous winter chemical.

  • Invest in a warm jacket for your pet if they get cold easily

  • Keep wind warnings and frostbite warnings in mind when making decisions about walks.

  • As the mercury drops it may be better to go on multiple short walks instead of one long one.

  • Use pet friendly ice melt to prevent burns and accidental poisonings

  • Keep antifreeze and other winter chemicals far away from curious paws

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