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Sun Jan 3, 2021, 07:26 AM

When Is It Too Cold to Walk the Dog? Use This Handy Guide for Reference

Dogington Post
By Brandy Arnold
Posted on Dec 2, 2020

It’s an issue pet parents face every winter – it’s freezing outside, but the dogs still need their daily exercise. At what point is it too cold to walk the dog?

How cold is too cold to walk the dog?

Dr. Kim Smyth, a staff veterinarian with pet insurance company Petplan, is asked this very question every winter, so she created a chart based on the assessment scale developed at Tufts University.

This handy chart is pretty straightforward: Just find the outdoor temperature, factor in the wind chill and how cold it actually feels, then look consider your dog’s size. Green (1-2) means it’s safe to go outside – have fun!; Yellow (3) means you should take caution as there is a slight potential for dangerous conditions; Orange (4) is likely dangerous and will require extra precautions; And red (5) is potentially life-threatening cold and any prolonged outdoor activity should be avoided.

Of course, you’ll also want to consider your dogs’ own health, lifestyle, and preference for the cold. But, as a general rule, Smyth says, “Under 30 degrees, factoring in the wind chill, it’s not going to be safe for any dog to be outside for an extended period of time.”

Of course, every dog is different. But, even if your dog loves being outside in winter weather – and temperatures aren’t too dangerously low to allow for a quick walk – dog owners should still follow a few simple precautions to stay safe:


See this very handy reference chart and additional tips here: https://www.dogingtonpost.com/too-cold-to-walk-the-dog-reference/

(I would post the chart if I knew how!)

My dog seems to want to walk no matter how cold it is. He's a lot tougher than I am.

Happy walking!



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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply When Is It Too Cold to Walk the Dog? Use This Handy Guide for Reference (Original post)
Mike 03 Jan 2021 OP
Rorey Jan 2021 #1
Mike 03 Jan 2021 #15
Rorey Jan 2021 #18
exboyfil Jan 2021 #2
hlthe2b Jan 2021 #3
Rorey Jan 2021 #4
hlthe2b Jan 2021 #6
Rorey Jan 2021 #8
hlthe2b Jan 2021 #10
Rorey Jan 2021 #12
Mike 03 Jan 2021 #17
Rorey Jan 2021 #19
N_E_1 for Tennis Jan 2021 #5
Rorey Jan 2021 #9
N_E_1 for Tennis Jan 2021 #11
Rorey Jan 2021 #13
Rorey Jan 2021 #7
Mike 03 Jan 2021 #16
Rorey Jan 2021 #20
keithbvadu2 Jan 2021 #14
Rorey Jan 2021 #21
TygrBright Jan 2021 #22

Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 07:43 AM

1. Nothing was too cold for mine

We'd go for an hour long walk/run at the park every morning, and I swear that he was wearing a hidden watch somewhere because he'd always insist on that full hour.

It didn't matter if it was a raging blizzard or pouring rain, we were going. In the very hot summer months I'd have to get up by 5 a.m. at the latest so we could beat the heat.

There was one time when we went on one of those super early walks and there were two loose dogs in the park with no humans around. They came running at us, perhaps to play, or perhaps to kill us. I'll never know. Whatever the case, my Murphy was not the playing type when it came to almost all other dogs, so I knew there was going to be a fight. I said, "Run, Murphy, run!!!" and we ran to my van and got there just in time. I still can't believe he actually listened, but I guess the fun of playing the "run game" was more attractive than the fun of attacking two dogs.

I also can't believe that I could run so fast back then.

And then the kicker was, he KNEW we hadn't been out for the full hour, so we had to go back later and finish the walk.

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Response to Rorey (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 12:18 PM

15. I know there are a lot of tough DUers here who are accustomed to very

low temps, but I'm not one of them. It was about 25 F give or take, with a breeze.

This morning I was talking to my dog, Sweetheart, for god's sake, haven't you had enough? Isn't it time to go home?... Is it time to go home yet?, talking like a crazy person on an empty street. My dog likes to stop and sniff everything. Maybe if we had done more walking and less sniffing it wouldn't have seemed so cold.

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Response to Mike 03 (Reply #15)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 01:03 PM

18. I'm not tough

I just tried to dress for the conditions, and then I just psyched myself up to emotionally handle the extreme conditions. It helped when Murphy wanted to run, but that stopping and sniffing everything was horrible.

I was always convinced that Murphy knew just what I was saying, and I'm sure your dog does too. I had a lot of long conversations with him. He got me through a lot of stuff. Many of our best talks were when we were driving, and even after he had died, I still felt like he was there in my van with me, and I'd still have talks with him.

Now I talk to the cat, but she doesn't care about my personal stuff much, and she doesn't go for rides. I may as well have a potted plant for a pet as well as she listens.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 07:49 AM

2. My in laws husky-lab mix

In the winter we would walk back and forth in a corn field behind their house (the field is a sea of houses with lots now). Back and forth. She loved it, and it was good exercise with me.

I tried to do it with my collie/border collie mix, but his paws were too small to pull it off. He also just wasn't equipped to handle the cold. He was more than up to it, but we just couldn't pull it off.

What we did instead was walk under an awning at the local elementary. It was were they didn't salt (hard on the dog's paws). Back and forth under the awning - he loved it. I miss him this winter now that he is gone.

I have a big fear of falling on the ice after being injured before so I don't like to walk outside any more. My Aussie isn't too inclined to walk either so it is indoor exercising for now.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 07:51 AM

3. Good Heavens. I'd be spending the entire winter inside if that were the case

Depends on the locale, the type of dog, the walking habits, physical health, and acclimatization--and WIND. And the controlling limiting factor is usually ME and not the dog, who would be otherwise content to lie in deep snow in 20-degree weather. But, we do our four-mile walks in nearly all cold extremes, with doggy booties only coming into play at 10 degrees or lower temperature, when the PAM sprayed on the feet no longer does the trick.

But, yeah, wind. That makes a tremendous difference, not only in the perceived temperature, general "comfort," but ability to regulate body temperature in subfreezing conditions.

But this is when the acclimatized, physically active dog is continually moving and under supervision. Sending a dog out to the backyard in extreme cold, snow, ice where they are not, can be a totally different issue.

Heat is a different story. Like Rorey upstream, we go for long walks pre-dawn in the hot months and then nothing major until way after sundown. Like becoming vampires.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:03 AM

4. I hated having to go in the dark

It was kind of creepy. I really wasn't afraid of humans as much as I was of loose dogs.

I had never heard of the Pam thing. What a great idea!

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Response to Rorey (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:09 AM

6. Yes. Me too. I've had coyotes tracking us--even on main thoroughfares and neighborhoods.

PAM is an old sled dog training trick.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:16 AM

8. I had a big argument with my brother about coyotes

He insisted they were harmless.

My then-husband used to take Murphy out to an empty space near us and let him run, which I always thought was a bad idea. He'd often see coyotes. He told me that they'll try to lure a dog in, and then chase it, and that there's no way a dog will be able to outrun a coyote. The coyotes would run the dog until it would get too tired to go on, and then take him down.

I don't know if all of that is true, but it sounds believable.

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Response to Rorey (Reply #8)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:25 AM

10. Packs would be an issue. My dog is large enough I'm not all that concerned and I carry a whistle

that would typically scare them off (as well as pepper spray on my keychain), but there is always the slight chance of encountering a rabid coyote. And when a group of young coyote siblings is out together, they can be a little too curious I try to scare them off with noise. I'm happy to live cooperatively with them, but, as with bear and mountain lions for those a bit further west, neighbors leaving out food or letting small dogs/cats outside unattended make me crazy.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #10)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 09:03 AM

12. Living cooperatively

I agree. It's usually when people get stupid that we have problems.

My daughter told me that an acquaintance of hers was working in their back yard and turned around just in time to see his little dog being taken over the top of his privacy fence by a coyote. That was in Pueblo West, where the lots are big and some of the houses have a lot of open space around them.

When we were house shopping a long time ago, my then-husband very much wanted a house out there. It was a beautiful house, but I'm not much of a fan of rattle snakes and other dangerous creatures. Ultimately I was able to convince him that the price was just too high for our comfort.

I grew up on a farm, but I'm way too much of a "city girl" at this point to want to live in that kind of environment.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 12:26 PM

17. We see coyotes from time to time, not in packs but just one or two

and they want nothing to do with us.

A bigger problem here are packs of javelinas. I get along fine with our local pack (they hang out in our yard to drink and eat), but the dislike between them and my dog is intense and mutual. We just have to be careful, but one of these mornings it could go sideways.

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Response to Mike 03 (Reply #17)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 01:06 PM

19. Javelinas! Good Lord! I had no idea!

Nope. I'm not doing that. I've got enough trouble with raccoons.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:03 AM

5. My 20 pound Havanese...

Loves winter. It’s a walk everyday no matter what. It’s all about the gear you have, for yourself and the dog.

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Response to N_E_1 for Tennis (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:19 AM

9. Havenese - had never heard of it

It looks like they have the coat for cold weather.

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Response to Rorey (Reply #9)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:30 AM

11. His coat is thick...

Great for winter gotta get him groomed every 6 weeks. Now here’s the kicker Havanese are the National Dog of Cuba.
Cuba! He spends hot days in the water, hates the heat. In summer his walks consists of “walking around the lake in the shallows chasing fish. We follow along in our kayaks watching him run and jump through the water. Laziest dog walk for us we kick back put our feet up on the boat. Doctor said I should put my feet up and get plenty of water.

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Response to N_E_1 for Tennis (Reply #11)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 09:14 AM

13. Well, doctor's orders.....what can you do?



My Murphy's coat was thick and heavy. He appeared to be a Chow/Shepherd mix. At first we left his coat alone. He really seemed to suffer, so we decided to try a haircut. My then-husband took him to get him groomed, and he was so upset by how he looked he was practically crying. He thought it was way too short, and it really was very short.

But Murphy LOVED it! He acted like a puppy! So we started getting him two cuts a year, once in the spring and once mid-summer. We'd let it get longer over the winter because he loved being outside so much. Many times in the dead of winter I'd look outside in the night and see him laying all stretched out on the snow. He had a dog door so he could come and go as he liked. We always turned the heat way down at night to try to get him to stay in more, but it was clear where he wanted to be.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 08:09 AM

7. The chart

[link:|

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Response to Rorey (Reply #7)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 12:21 PM

16. Thank you!!!

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Response to Mike 03 (Reply #16)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 01:08 PM

20. You're welcome

I thought I'd have to use imgur, but all I had to do was right-click the image and copy the address. I was pleasantly surprised when it actually worked.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 11:29 AM

14. Cold dog



.

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Response to keithbvadu2 (Reply #14)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 01:13 PM

21. Yup

Mine went out by choice, but the dog door was always open for them to come in whenever they wanted to.

I used to have to ground one of mine once in awhile when he wouldn't stop barking, but in that case he was locked IN the house, not outside. Out of the three dogs I've had, only one had a bark problem.

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Response to Mike 03 (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 03:19 PM

22. Well, that's it for the Iditarod, I guess.... n/t

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