Every few years, Florida gets a bite-sized taste of what the rest of the country considers winter weather. That means temperatures in the 40s or maybe even the 30s. And though it won’t literally be freezing, it’ll be enough of a weather change to affect most pets and their everyday routines, including walks and exercise.
There’s no one right answer for an exact safe outdoor temperature for your dog, here are some factors to keep in mind.
WIND CHILL: A brisk breeze can quickly cut through a dog’s coat and greatly decrease the ability to insulate and protect against cold temperatures.
DAMPNESS: Rain, wet snow, heavy fog—any form of dampness that soaks through the fur—can rapidly chill a dog even if the air temperature isn’t too cold.
CLOUD COVER: Cloudy days tend to feel colder than sunny days; dogs can’t soak up the sun and warm themselves.
It’s a common belief that dogs and cats can tolerate cold better than humans because of their fur, but that’s untrue. Like people, dogs are individuals. An outdoor temperature that feels downright balmy to one might send another running for shelter.
In general, cold temperatures shouldn’t be a problem for most dogs until the numbers fall below 45°F. Add wind chill, and it’s not safe for any dog to be outside for an extended period of time. The most important thing to do when the temperature drops? Pay attention! If you think it’s too cold, everyone goes inside.
Old dogs, small dogs and dogs without much fur should be bundled up against the cold with sweaters and jackets. They may look silly, but it’s helpful for many. The extra layer keeps them warm, safe and stylish in winter.
Don’t forget—some dogs burn extra energy trying to stay warm in wintertime; others get lazy. Be aware of your dog’s activity level and adjust calories accordingly. And make sure they have plenty of water to drink. It helps keep them hydrated and moisturizes their skin.
If you’re looking for a way to avoid the cold on dog walks, consider walking through one of several businesses that allow pets inside. Whether wandering pet stores’ aisles (PetSmart) or doing laps around the perimeter of Lowe’s, your dog can stroll through several shops that allow well-behaved, leashed pets.
Let’s face it. Most of us don’t love freezing cold weather. My snout starts to shiver the minute I step into the frosty air. But no matter what the thermometer reads—and no matter how cold you feel, exercising year ’round is important for dogs. You may have to shorten walks to 10 minutes, but make sure your dog gets outside even for only a short while. True cold weather evidence suggests that dogs tend to have enough sense to do their business quickly in the cold.
Remember these cold weather tips and enjoy everything winter has to offer. And don’t forget that cuddles with your canine are a great way for everybody to keep warm!
Davi the dachshund looks dashing in all weather conditions.