When Is It Too Cold To Take Fido Out?

Do dogs like playing out-of-doors? Well, no prizes for guessing this one.
We all know how much our pooches adore their time exploring the outdoors. While it isn’t anything to worry about when the weather is pleasant, but harsh weather can sometimes affect our canine companions more than we think it does. And it doesn’t help that they can’t tell us if they’re too hot or too cold.1
Let’s take a closer look at how cold weather affects our dogs and learn to keep an eye out for a few telltale signs that can let you know when your pooch is getting uncomfortable and decide if you can let your pooch sniff that last patch of snow or if it’s time to head back inside.2

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1. Some General Rules To Keep In Mind

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Temperatures above 45 F should be okay for most dogs, unless your dog is someone who is particularly averse to cold or even cool weather, when compared to other dogs.
Below 32 F, the weather will start impacting small breeds, dogs with thinner than normal coats, or dogs who are more sensitive to weather changes, just because they’re either too young, too old or not in the best of their health.

In general, healthy dogs find it easier to cope up with extreme temperature changes. And if your dog hasn’t had his routine health checkup done recently, it might be a good idea to take him to his vet and have him checked out, as there are certain illnesses that can hinder a dog’s ability to maintain his body temperature.

When the mercury drops below 20 F, all pet-parents need to be alert to the signs of sometimes life-threatening conditions like hypothermia or frostbite.3

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2. Signs That Say Your Dog Is Cold

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There are some signs to watch out for, when you are outdoors with your pet in cold weather and these signs appear when the dog’s body is unable to deal with the cold. The first thing to watch out for is, if your dog is holding up one paw or alternating between paws.

Cute as it may seem, your dog is trying to tell you that its paws are freezing or he may have balls of ice or snow caught between the pads of his feet. It’s time to bundle him off back inside.4
Also, when you notice that your dog is turning towards you and whining or barking suddenly, he may be trying to tell you that he’s not able to handle the cold and wants to go back inside.
Other signs that he’s too cold may be shivering, or him trying to climb up your leg to be held or turning around and heading towards home. Some dogs

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may even look for a place to hide or burrow under, to seek shelter from the cold.
These are all signs of hypothermia – a condition when the dog’s body temperature falls below normal. If the dog isn’t taken inside immediately and its body temperature continues to fall, it could be potentially life-threatening.
Frostbite is another risk from constant exposure to extreme cold weather, and although less common, is very hard to detect and is usually diagnosed after much of the damage is already done. The areas that it impacts the most are a dog’s paws, ears and tail.

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3. How Effective Are The Fur Coats?

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The belief that dogs are more resistant to cold weather than us because of their fur, is untrue. Just like us, they are vulnerable to cold-induced conditions like hypothermia and frostbite and should be kept inside during such weather conditions.
Some breeds such as huskies that are bred for

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colder climates are more tolerant of harsher weathers, but as a rule, no pet should be kept outside for an extended period of time, in freezing temperatures.
Some dogs, who aren’t used to very cold weather conditions may suffer even when they have a heavy coat. A Malamute who’s grown up in Florida, for example, may find it hard to deal with low temperatures, simply because he’s never experienced it and is not used to it.
Dogs with a short coat and no undercoat, will find it harder than their furry counterparts to deal with the cold. And so will the short-legged and toy breeds who will have a greater exposure to cold when they wade through deep snow and will get chilled and tired faster.
As a general rule, when it’s cold and windy outside, it’s a good idea to go out with your dog, and bring him back inside once he’s finished relieving himself. It may also be worth it to get him used to wearing jackets and boots if you live in a place that experiences extremely
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harsh winters.
It’s worth keeping in mind, that if you’re uncomfortable and feel the need to bundle up, your pooch could be potentially in danger. But most dogs, when they’re too cold, will give you enough signs that they would rather be elsewhere.
And a dog running about in circles, or chasing invisible squirrels in the snow – is a happy dog.