Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Pet Expert: When Is It Too Cold To Walk The Dog?

toocoldtowalkdog 270With frigid temperatures this past weekend feeling like the Night King from Game of Thrones is at our doorstep, dog owners are being cautioned to keep their pups indoors. But for many pet owners, this could mean an increase in pent up, anxious, and destructive behaviours as dogs create outlets to satiate their mind and body.

Dogs need regular stimulation and exercise, so even one day of staying in can be enough to drive some dogs a little crazy.

But how do you determine when it is too cold for regular walks or dog park fun?

First, consider your dog’s size. Different breeds will have vastly different temperature tolerances – a husky can endure cold temperatures significantly longer than a chihuahua. Typically, for small breed dogs, temperatures below -5C can have be potentially life-threatening. For medium and large breed dogs, it’s best to avoid temperatures colder than -10C, although this varies by breed.

Long-haired and double-coated dogs tend to do well in much colder weather than their short-haired, and single-coated counterparts. Dogs with darker-coloured coats may stay warmer on days when the sun is out, as their coat will absorb heat from sunlight. Overweight dogs have extra insulation that provides more warmth than slender dogs. Every dog is unique, and their tolerance for cold will vary greatly. Adult dogs have better cold resistance than puppies or senior dogs, too.

Also consider weather conditions. On a frigid day that is otherwise clean and clear, your pooch may be just fine in weather a few degrees cooler than recommended. However, other factors such as a cold wind or blowing snow can mean waiting for warmer weather. And freezing rain can be particularly dangerous, so avoid going out in it at all.

It is also important to make sure your pooch is prepared for the weather. Dog boots will keep paws clean and warm, preventing ice buildup between the toes. Dog coats help provide a toasty insulating barrier, too. Dress for the weather; from light sweaters, to arctic parkas, there are solutions for every temperature.

When venturing out during cold temperatures, keep a close eye on your dog. If they seem to be lifting their paws off the ground, this is a clear indication they are too cold. If they are shivering, then get them inside as fast as possible. Try not to stray too far from home, just in case you need to return in a hurry.

If you find your pooch is getting pent up at home during frigid winter conditions, try going outside for several small spurts throughout the day, if possible. To keep your dog engaged, challenged, and stimulated, try getting creative by teaching new tricks or playing games. For example, hide small treats throughout the home for a fun scavenger hunt, or try to learn a fun trick off YouTube. Extra snuggle time can also be a fun cure for the cold-weather blues. Always check weather warnings before taking your pooch out during the winter.

Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert – is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at

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