Should you walk your dog in cold weather?

In the UK, it gets cold around late October and can last until March. Many people will be deterred from walking their dogs if the weather gets too cold and sometimes you can’t blame them, but it’s important to remember that your dog’s need for exercise is important throughout the year. To answer the question ‘Should I walk my dog in cold weather?’ is yes, but not when it’s too cold and not for too long if it’s 0 or below. We’ve also got some tips to make walking your dog in low temperatures a nice experience for both.

With very windy and cold weather, we always recommend getting a warm waterproof coat like the one below for dogs with thinner coats and without as much blubber around like our Jug! Don’t forget to wrap yourself up with one of our recommended dog-walking coats, boots and gloves.

Ancol Muddy Paws Quilted Dog Coat Black, Size Medium (40 cm Length/ 52-64 cm Girth Approx)
887 Reviews
Ancol Muddy Paws Quilted Dog Coat Black, Size Medium (40 cm Length/ 52-64 cm Girth Approx)
  • A beautifully tailored coat with diamond stitching and handy lead slot

When is it too cold to walk your dog in the UK?

Generally, it’s recommended not to walk your dog if the temperature is below -10°C (14°F) as it can be too cold and dangerous, especially for short-haired breeds. However, it depends on the individual dog. Dogs with thicker coats can handle cold if it’s not too windy.

Here’s a handy infographic that may explain things a bit better.

Read More: A Dogowner’s Guide to Best Waterproof Dog Coats in UK 2023

Do dogs feel the cold?

Dogs can get cold, especially breeds with thin or short hair. Dogs with thick coats don’t get cold easily, but it still depends on the individual dog and their tolerance to the cold. If a dog is shivering, whining, or seems uncomfortable, it may be too cold for them.

Young puppies and older dogs would also be more sensitive to the colder weather. As a general rule, if the temperature has dropped below -6 C, then it’s advised that you keep your dog indoors. For dogs to be outside during such cold weather, they risk frostbite and paw injuries.

1. How do you know if your dog is cold?

To know if your doggo is cold:

  • Signs of a cold dog: shivering, whining, seeking warm places, low energy, slow movements.
  • Touching their ears and nose: cold skin may indicate they’re feeling the cold.
  • Observing their behaviour: if they’re trying to burrow into blankets or seek warm spots, they might be cold.

2. Can dogs get cold at night? 

Dogs can get cold at night, especially if they have short hair or thin coats. Consider providing extra bedding or a coat for extra warmth. Older dogs and those with health issues may be more susceptible to the cold.

If your dog sleeps indoors, an extra blanket on their dog bed for them to snuggle into will be sufficient. However, if your dog sleeps outdoors in a dog house, it will be affected when the temperature drops and steps should be taken to ensure your dog doesn’t get too cold in winter.

You should also consider moving the dog house out of the direct path of the wind and into a sheltered area. Check on your dog regularly throughout the night to ensure they’re handling the cold weather well.

Dog running in winter

3. How to keep your dog warm?

  • Provide them with a warm and cosy bed, off the floor.
  • Use a dog coat or blanket, especially on walks in cold weather.
  • Give them a warm place to rest such as a heated bed or blanket.
  • Increase their physical activity during the day to generate body heat.
  • Limit their time outside in extremely cold weather.

A well-fitted jumper and/or winter coat is a good start if you’re going for a walk with your dog in cold temperatures. Do make sure the coat fits your dog properly: covering its body from its neck down to its tail and that its belly is also covered.

If you return from your walk and your dog is cold, wrap them in a blanket, put their dog bed near a radiator, and monitor how they are after a little while indoors. If you have any concerns about your dog after being out in the cold, do contact your vet and get them checked over. If your dog sleeps outside in a dog house, many precautions can be taken to help keep them warm.

Why should you walk your dog in cold weather?

1. Walking in the cold is good exercise for dogs.

The most important thing here is to remember that exercise for dogs is important throughout the year; prolonged time without being outside and social interaction with other dogs can have an adverse effect on their health.

Try to read this article as a guide on how to get them walking in the winter rather than reasons to avoid it. We do not recommend avoiding it unless it’s extremely cold and dangerous out there.

2. Some dogs can handle it better than others.

Snowy Dog

Some dogs can handle cold weather better than others. Think big dogs with thick fur that are stocky. Does your dog have the natural tools to handle the cold? If you have a skinny breed like a Chihuahua, then it may be better to stay indoors or keep the dog wrapped up in a good coat for shorter periods and put on a dog tracker in case they get lost. If you are blessed with a husky or a long-haired breed, then it may well be business as usual for them.

However, if you have an elderly/puppy dog or one ill, then sometimes avoiding the cold may not be the worst idea.

3. It’s not a problem if you wrap up warm.

As mentioned above, ensure that you and your pooch are wrapped up warm with a good quality dog coat to keep the heat in; we recommend pairing the dog coat with a good harness underneath. For yourself, you can get a nice hat, coat and gloves. Pro-tip for the gloves: get some with some grip on the fingers to keep a hold of the lead without slipping if they pull away suddenly.

4. The walk can be exciting for both of you.

Movement generates heat, which will warm your pooch nicely and quickly. If it’s safe, why not let them off the lead and play some fetch or even have a run instead of a walk?

5. Take care of their paws.

Winter brings harsh chemicals and materials on the pavements and roads – salt, grit, snow, ice, and de-icer. This stuff is not good for your dog’s paws and can cause irritation by drying the paws out, causing a stinging sensation, and if they have a cut already on their paws, it can be really painful. Our first tip is avoiding the nasty stuff; the second tip is to give their paws a clean after a wintery walk.

Dog Paw Cleaner Pet Washer Cleaning Brush Portable Dog Foot Cup Perfect For Dirty And Muddy Paws (Medium, Blue)
17 Reviews
Dog Paw Cleaner Pet Washer Cleaning Brush Portable Dog Foot Cup Perfect For Dirty And Muddy Paws (Medium, Blue)
  • 【HIGH QUALITY METERIAL】:Foot washing cup is made from gentle silicone bristles which will help remove dirt and mud from your dog's paw cleans off mud, sand, dirt, ice melt &Prevents paw irritation due to salt or other contaminants in the environment.

Can dogs walk on icy pavements?

Dogs can walk on icy pavements, but it can be dangerous as ice can be slippery and cause them to slip, slide or fall. It’s important to check the pavement for icy patches and avoid them if possible, or to be extra cautious. Use booties to provide extra traction.

Author

  • Jonathan Spaeth

    I'm a professional business person who loves dogs. I'm motivated by a passion for dogs and a deep understanding of pet care and behavior. I have more than 10 years of experience in animal healthcare—my lifelong passion for helping dogs.

Last update on 2024-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4 thoughts on “Should you walk your dog in cold weather?”

  1. little poochie

    hey great article, thanks for the tips

  2. The Jug Dog

    Thanks very much little poochie!

  3. Dashin' Dogs

    Great Post, Some really good tips. Check out this paw butter if your dog has got dry or cracked paws after the cold weather, its amazing.

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