There is a huge snowstorm sweeping the US right now, so I wanted to make this quick blurb outside of my normal posting schedule!
Dogs love to play in the snow, but they can get hypothermia just like humans. How can you make sure they are safe? I’ll start by briefly discussing risk factors, and then include a fantastic chart from Petplan that helps me keep Athena and Nike safe every day.
Keep in mind as you read that it is still okay to go outside to potty; this is more aimed at playtime outside of 10 minutes or more.
First, check the temperature.
If it’s too cold outside, dogs are at risk. Even thick-coated dogs aren’t fully insulated. Using the phrase “too cold” may seem very broad, but that’s because no one temperature is “too cold.”
Ten degrees Farenheit (-12 Celsius) is a good “too cold” floor for all breeds. As the temperature climbs, the risk factor changes and it becomes safer for only certain dogs. Dogs can be at risk at as high as 45 degrees depending on their size and coat thickness!
Next, evaluate wetness.
No matter how “warm” it is in a winter chill, having wet weather increases risk by a lot! Think about it – if you are covered in water and go outside when it’s even a little chilly, it’s feels like you’re going to freeze to death.
Dogs are much closer to the ground and tend to get snow caught in their fur, which counts as being wet. If there are several inches of snow, it is likely not safe – no matter what type of dog you have.
Finally, know your dog.
Some breeds were specifically selected for surviving the cold, like malamutes and huskies. You may be able to spend more time outside if you have such a dog, or if your doodle has particularly thick fur. However, be mindful of how much snow gets stuck in their fur, as it can keep them cold when they come in. Use a kitchen whisk to get rid of unwanted snow!
Other breeds have basically no protection against cold, like weimariners or xolo dogs. You may want to consider doggy clothes and boots to make sure they aren’t getting too cold. Even with these protections, it is probably unsafe to be outside for more than the time it takes to potty if there is snow on the ground.
The most important thing is to know your dog and be watchful. If you aren’t sure, avoid prolonged outdoor activity!
How Cold is Too Cold?
Chart from Petplan
Here’s a great resource I keep saved on my phone. Use it to help you determine if it’s safe to play in the snow!