Clipsters & Co Advice -
IS IT TOO COLD FOR MY DOG?

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As the weather takes a frosty turn, we all want to wrap up warm and stay indoors, but our canine companions may think differently. Here’s our short guide to keeping your dog safe as the temperature drops, and some alternatives to a trek through the snow.

Border collie in the snow wearing an orange wool hat
Is a stylish wooly hat enough to protect your best friend from the winter cold?

When Is It Too Cold?

Dogs, much like us, can feel the bite of winter cold. While many breeds have fur coats to provide some insulation, extreme cold can be uncomfortable, especially for smaller or short-haired dogs. Factors like age, health and breed can influence your dog’s tolerance to colder temperatures.

Generally, if the temperature falls below 0C (32F), then think twice about walking your dog, especially longer walks in exposed areas like fields and hillsides. If it’s below -5C (23F) out there, keep them indoors as much as possible.

Things To Consider

Breed and coat type can greatly affect your dog’s comfort in and tolerance of cold weather. Think of Huskies and Newfoundlands – breeds that are very much at home in the cold, whilst Chihuahuas or Basenjis are bred for warm climates. Breeds like greyhounds have both short hair and are naturally very lean, so lack protection against extreme cold. Small dogs tend to lose heat faster, plus they’re nearer to the ground where ice and frost lies.

What sort of cold is it? Damp and wind can also affect their resilience. Cold winds can get under jackets and through your dog’s fur, making them feel colder. Damp, icy or snowy weather can also make your dog’s fur wet, which will mean a faster loss of body heat.

Age and health. Young and older dogs, as well as those with health issues can struggle to regulate their temperature, including retaining heat. If your dog has arthritis, the cold can be particularly difficult for them.

How To Keep Them Warm

Activity – just like humans, if you’re out for a leisurely walk, your dog may feel the cold more readily than if you’re running or playing.

Coats and jumpers are good options for dogs with shorter coats, but don’t keep them on indoors. Not only could your dog struggle if they’re wearing a covering in a heated home, prolonged use of coats and jumpers can contribute to knots and matts in curly or long-haired breeds.

Timing – avoid walks during the coldest parts of the day, usually very early and after dark.

Boots – in addition to the ice, salt and ice-melting chemicals on pavements and roads can be harsh on paw pads. Consider using pet-friendly booties to protect your dog’s delicate feet.

Stay indoors. If the cold is only going to last a few days, consider skipping the long outdoor walks for indoor activities. Depending on the space you have, you could play indoor catch with a soft toy or tug of war with a rope or chew toy. Mental games like an obstacle course using cushions, boxes and blankets and treats hidden around will keep them occupied and help to release energy. Likewise some indoor behaviour training or tricks.

Extra Tips

Keep fur around paws short in winter. Ice can collect between pads and toes.

If your dog isn’t wearing boots, wipe their feet after your walk. The salt and grit used to de-ice pavements can irritate your dog’s feet and even be harmful if they eat it.

Avoid walking routes near frozen lakes and ponds.

It gets dark earlier and quicker in the winter, so even if you leave the house in the daylight, make sure you and your dog are wearing something bright and/or reflective.

Conclusion

Your dog’s well-being is the top priority. If it’s too cold for you, it’s likely too cold for your best friend. There’s no harm in missing a couple of walks. If you do venture out in cold weather, always keep your dog within sight. Remember, ponds and lakes freeze, roads become slippery, snow drifts can hide a variety of physical hazards.

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