Ask the Vet: How Long is Too Long for a Dog Out in the Cold?

Dog With Scarf in Snow

Most of our canine friends love to be outdoors. And of course, it’s good for them! The fresh air, exercise, and mental stimulation all play positive roles in your pet’s health. Still, when winter hits and the temps begin to drop in Oklahoma, it’s also important to remember that dogs, like us, can be negatively affected by the cold.

How Long is Too Long for Your Dog to be Outside?

Well, it depends on several factors — particularly, the temperature and wind and your dog’s breed, size, and overall health. Generally speaking, it’s time to start being concerned about your pup when temps hit 32ºF — especially for small breeds and super young, elderly, or unwell dogs.

If temps drop below 20ºF, all dogs should be taken in or closely monitored. At this temperature, frostbite and hypothermia pose serious threats.

In general, follow these rules for keeping your dog safe while outside in cold weather:

1. No matter their breed, all dogs should have a warm, safe place to go at all times.

Even if your dog would rather be outdoors than in, make sure they have a warm, dry, out-of-the-wind place to go with a fresh water source and food.

2. Pay attention to your pet’s signals, and they’ll often tell you when they’re too cold.

Keep an eye on your dog whenever they’re outdoors. Are they shivering, whining, or reluctant to play? They’re likely uncomfortable in the cold and need warmth.

3. Consider yourself a good barometer.

If you’re outdoors in your hat, coat, and mittens and still getting cold, chances are your little buddy is too, and it’s time to head in.

4. Some dogs are more vulnerable to the cold than others.

Dogs that are elderly, very young, or ill should be more closely monitored in the cold. Furthermore, be aware that Brachycephalic breeds (e.g. English and French bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, and Boston Terriers) can have as much trouble with the cold as they do with the heat.

Oklahoma Weather Changes Quickly: Keep Your Dog Safe Outdoors

Despite their thick fur coats and paw pads, dogs can be hurt by cold weather and dropping temperatures in Oklahoma. Be sure to protect your canine friend by following the advice above.

If you have questions about your dog’s specific breed or age in the cold — or anything else pet-related — always feel free to ask the experienced veterinarians at Sunset Veterinary Clinic. Contact our team today!

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2017 N Kelly Avenue Edmond, OK 73003
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