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Can Dogs Stay Outside in the Winter?

Jack Russell dog in a warm blue jacket sitting on the snow.

Most dogs shouldn’t be bothered by the cold until the temperature drops below 45 degrees F. At this point certain cold-sensitive dogs could start to feel uneasy, even causing hypothermia. On the other hand, dogs suitable for colder conditions would do fine until it goes below 20 degrees F. Keep reading to know when dogs can’t stay outside in the winter and learn how to keep your pup safe.

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Is it Ok to Leave Dogs Outside in Winter?

In general, it’s not a good idea to keep dogs outside in the winter for long periods. This is particularly true in regions with extremely chilly temperatures or unfavorable weather. Even dogs with thick coats and cold-weather breeds can get hypothermic or develop frostbite in the cold.

Before determining whether or not to keep your dog outside during the winter, it’s also crucial to take into account their specific needs. For example, their age, breed, and general health. Dogs with health difficulties, puppies, and older dogs are often more vulnerable to the cold. Hence, they shouldn’t be left outside for long periods.

To safeguard your dog’s safety and comfort throughout the winter, it’s often advisable to bring them indoors. If you have to leave them outside, make sure they have the right care and shelter to stay warm.

How Can You Tell If a Dog Is Cold?

Dog getting cold with knitted scarf tied around the neck.

Much like humans, dogs may feel cold temperatures, therefore it’s critical to know the signs of canine exposure to cold. The following are some typical indications that a dog may feel chilly.

  • Shivering
  • Whining and vocalizing
  • Curling up
  • Lethargy
  • Change in behavior
  • Pale gums or tongue
  • Slow breathing
  • Cold ears and feet
  • Unwillingness to move

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At What Temperature Should Dogs Be Brought Inside?

Group of three australian shepherd dogs standing in winter park.

As long as they have access to a dry, warm shelter and are not exposed to wind or wetness, most dogs can generally withstand temperatures above freezing for brief periods. Yet when the temperature decreases, the danger of hypothermia and frostbite rises, particularly for smaller, older, or ill canines.

Generally speaking, if it’s below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a good idea to bring your dog indoors (-6.6 degrees Celsius). Your dog can endure colder temperatures for long if they are a cold-weather breed, such as a husky or malamute.

Ultimately, it’s critical to keep a watchful eye out for any indications of pain or distress in your dog, such as shaking, drowsiness, or a behavior change. It is preferable to bring your dog inside or provide them access to a warmer shelter if you observe any of these symptoms. It’s important to keep in mind that your dog’s safety and well-being should always come first.

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How to Keep Your Dog Safe During Winter?

Cheerful australian shepherd with multicolored fur sits on sofa.

When it comes to winter weather, there is a lot to be ready for. Our pets experience the effects of the cold just like we do. Some of the actions to guarantee your dog is warm, content, and healthy throughout the winter are discussed below.

Protect Paws

Dog’s feet may be exposed to ice and salt in the winter depending on where you live, which might harm the paws or pads. If exposed to severely low temperatures for an extended period, your dog might develop frostbite.

Be careful with small snow or ice chunks that might get lodged in the hair on your feet or between your toes. Salt and iced sidewalks can also cause chapped paws. If the chemicals bother your dog’s feet, you can try dog booties or wash your pet’s paws with a warm towel after a walk.

Keep the Dog Covered

Cute little dog covered in throw blanket and falling asleep.

Even though most dogs have their coats, you wouldn’t want to venture outside in a snowstorm wearing a spring jacket. Assure that tiny, fragile, and short-haired dogs—even big dogs like Greyhounds—have the proper winter attire, which should include a reliable coat and a form-fitting jumper.

Clean the Feet

Woman pet hairdresser giving professional care in veterinary spa clinic

Deicing agents, like calcium chloride and sodium chloride (rock salt), which are used to coat city roadways, make walkways safe for pedestrians but can harm paw pads. Be careful to wipe your dog’s feet clean. Some owners put a bucket at the entrance so that when their dogs come inside from the cold, they may immediately clean their feet. Be careful to get in between the toes and the pads with warm water. Some dogs may also require paw balm, which is available for purchase or may be made at home, or a moisturizer for dry skin.

Stay Inside the House

Even a large, fluffy dog that stays indoors will take some time to get used to the cold. Your dog’s body will adjust to the shift in weather with the aid of brief outside romps. New indoor games can keep indoor activities entertaining. Many indoor, interactive dog toys are now available to provide your dog with a pleasant method to engage in both mental and physical activity.

What to Do if Your Dog Gets Too Cold?

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To avoid hypothermia, a potentially fatal disease, it’s critical to act quickly to warm up your dog if they become too cold. Bring your dog inside to a warm location if they are outside in the cold. If you are unable to bring your dog inside, make sure they have access to a warm, dry, wind, rain, and snow-protected shelter. To make a warm and cozy sleeping space for them, use a straw, blankets, or a dog bed.

A heating pad on low heat is ideal for covering your dog. The high setting on a heating pad might burn your dog, so avoid doing so. To share body heat with your little dog, you can hold them close to your body. To assist them to warm up from the inside out, provide your dog with warm liquids like water or chicken broth.

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