Yorkshire terrier in the snow wearing coat and doggie booties.

There’s nothing like a New England winter to make you long for the warm weather. There is also nothing quite as beautiful. Hampton Veterinary Hospital hopes that you are enjoying the season with your pets. Read on for our best tips for winter safety for dogs. 

Baby It’s Cold Outside

It’s cold outside, there’s really no getting around it. Many pets enjoy a good romp in the brisk weather. But how cold is too cold for dogs? 

Dogs are susceptible to problems like hypothermia and frostbite like anyone else. Understanding the effects of cold weather on dogs can help you to make safer choices for your pet. 

The answer to how cold is too cold can vary greatly from individual pet to individual pet. In general, any time the temperature is below 45 F or so, you should exercise caution. 

Senior dogs, puppies, dogs with short hair coats, tiny dogs, and those with more chronic health conditions are most susceptible to getting too cold. Keeping these pets inside when temperatures start to get below 32 F is usually best. 

All dogs are at risk of hypothermia when exposure is prolonged to temperatures under 20 F.  Outdoor time should be limited to quick potty breaks.

Signs of hypothermia in dogs can include:

  • Sluggishness
  • Shivering
  • Pale gums/mucous membranes
  • Whining
  • Incoordination
  • Slow heart rate/breathing rate

You can help your pet enjoy the winter weather by being sure that they have an option to shelter from the cold, have access to fresh non-frozen water, and they keep their activity level (and, thus body temperature) up. 

Winter pet clothes can help keep less insulated pets warm for short exposures as well. Contact us if you need advice on how to protect your pet from the cold. 

Other Winter Safety for Dogs

Temperature isn’t the only danger that dogs face in the colder months. Other considerations for winter pet safety include:

  • Being sure to rinse ice melt and rock salt from your pet’s coat and paws after exposure as these can be irritating or cause problems when ingested.
  • Choosing a pet-safe ice melt for your property.
  • Clearing snow and ice from your pet’s outdoor area to prevent cuts, slips, and irritation.
  • Keeping your dog’s hair trimmed on the paws and nails short to improve traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Being on the lookout for bright green antifreeze leaks that can lead to serious toxicity if ingested by pets. 
  • Providing warm areas to rest that don’t expose them to carbon monoxide inhalation or fire (space heaters and garages are not the safest option).

Winter is a magical time of year, and we hope that you are able to enjoy it with your dog. You can decide whether that means being curled up next to a warm fire with your pooch or a hike outdoors in the snow.