Dog Lover’s Guide to Winter Walking Safety



How do I know if it’s too cold for my dog to go walking outside?

 Being a professional dog walker, I get asked this question a lot!

Here are 7 tips to help you decide!


Watch That Weather!

When the temperature dips below freezing (32 degrees Farhenheit) I limit outdoor time for my dogs.  Instead of a long walk, we go outside as long as necessary to get our business done, and then we head on inside for some indoor play/exercise.

And don’t forget the wind chill factor!  Whenever I consider the temperature outside I always take into consideration the wind chill factor since it makes a considerable difference in what the thermometer says and how it actually feels!

Rain, snow or sleet will also influence how the temperature feels since a damp or wet body gets colder faster so remember to take this into consideration when planning your winter walks as well.



Consider Their Age!

Just like humans, very old dogs or young puppies have a difficult time regulating their body temperature and also have a low tolerance for extreme temperatures. For these reasons, it is best to keep outdoor exposure to a minimum and consult your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.

Any physical conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia will only be aggravated by the cold.  Keep pets with these conditions inside where it’s warm as much as possible.



Bundle Them Up!

I know, dogs have a coat so why do I need to add another one?  Consider how you are dressing for the weather, and dress them accordingly.  If you have a fluffy, furry husky this would not apply to you, but for short-haired dogs, regardless of their size, a warm coat will keep them comfy cozy in the cold.



Shorten Outdoor Time!

If your fur baby goes outside in a fenced yard to “do his business” stay close by to usher him in when he is done.  Supervision during frigid cold is important to keep your pet safe.



Cars are Cold!

Sure, it’s fun to bring your fur baby along to run errands, but warm cars quickly become cold once they are parked.  If you must take your fur baby with you in the car during cold weather, be sure to have plenty of blankets, keep a window vented for fresh air, and keep your time away from your dog to a minimum.




Yes, dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite just like we are especially those areas with little fur such as ears, noses and tips of tails.  For that reason, if you have to ask how long does it take for a dog to get frostbite, stay inside.  Here are the signs of frostbite:

According to the VCA Animal Hospital, “the clinical signs associated with frostbite include:

  • Discoloration of the affected area of skin – this discoloration is often pale, gray or bluish.
  • Coldness and/or brittleness of the area when touched.
  • Pain when you touch the body part(s)
  • Swelling of the affected area(s)
  • Blisters or skin ulcers.”


Sign up for weather alerts!

Many local animal shelters will post weather advisories on their website or send out text messages or emails to subscribers.  Check with shelters in your area to see if any of them offer this option.

The Weather Channel is another great resource for up-to-the-minute weather information in your area.


Bottom line, don’t let the cold weather keep you and your dog from getting outside for some exercise and fresh air.  You may have to limit your regular walk to only 5 or 10 minutes, but just getting outside for a short time really makes a difference!


If the weather isn’t cooperative, make sure they are getting sufficient potty breaks and find other indoor activities to keep their minds and bodies occupied and active.


I will list some options in a later post on how to keep dogs active indoors.





Until then,




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s