Walking Your Dog in Winter: 5 Tips To Keep Them Safe and Warm

Holiday & Seasonal
Winter Dog Walking

Winter walks are great exercise, but they can also be hazardous for pets. Even though your dog has fur, and often grow a thicker winter coat, dogs are at risk for freezing in cold weather.

After all, you’re heading out with layers of insulated clothing. But, your dog isn’t, and so they may not be nearly as warm as you feel. 

In this article, we’ll give you five great tips on how to keep your dog warm on winter walks, plus a quick guide to help you plan safe walks.

5 Tips for Winter Weather Dog Walking

Follow these five tips to keep your dog warm on winter walks: 

  1. Avoid Dangerous Temperature Levels

  2. Keep Walks Short

  3. Don’t Let Your Dog Eat Snow

  4. Watch for Warning Signs

  5. Keep Them Warm With Clothes

We'll get into more detail for each of these.

1. Dangerous Temperature Levels

Check the temperature before winter walking! Depending on the dog breed, it may be dangerously cold outside for your dog. Keep weather conditions such as wind chill and rain in mind, too. Recent flooding or too many puddles may not be pet safe. 

Dog Walking Temperature Chart - Cold Weather Edition

Use this dog walking temperature chart to help you exercise your dog safely in cold weather. 

Use this chart to determine whether its' safe to take your dog for a walk when it's cold out, or how long the walk should be. Measure by outside temperature and take other factors into account.

2. Keep Walks Short

Consider cutting down the amount of time you walk your dog to 20 minutes when it’s cold out. If they're still energetic after a short walk, invest in some indoor toys and games to wear them out and give them the exercise they need.

3. Don’t Let Your Dog Eat Snow

Eating snow isn’t sanitary for a dog. There can be harmful chemicals hiding within a fluffy piece of snow. So, stay vigilant and don’t encourage snow-eating. 

Dogs east snow because they love crunchy things, but they also just might be thirsty. So, bring a bottle of water for them to drink when you walk your dog in the snow. 

They’ll stay hydrated and less likely to go for the ice on the ground.

Can Dogs Walk in the Snow?

Dogs can walk in the snow, and it’s a great calorie-burning exercise for you both! But, you have to ensure they don't get too cold. Your dog’s size and fur thickness play a role. For example, a Chihuahua is more susceptible to the cold than a Siberian Husky or Saint Bernard.

4. Watch for Warning Signs

Your dog’s attitude and body language can clue you in to a problem with your winter walk routine. Watch for: 

Disinterest in Going Out

You may start to notice that your pet who loves to walk signals they don’t want to go out when the weather changes. Sitting and digging paws into the ground or floor once you bring out the leash is an obvious clue.

Whining

Whining when you try to take them out or whining while they’re outside are signs your dog isn’t enjoying the cold. Make sure to protect them when they’re uncomfortable.

Cowering

If your dog cowers or runs away to hide from you, they may be avoiding the outside. Remember: colder temperatures make the ground, grass, and sidewalks freezing for a dog's paws.

Shaking or Shivering

Your dog could be shaking or shivering either from fear or cold, and this behavior may be accompanied by cowering. Some breeds, like chihuahuas, are more prone to shaking than others. But, if this is a new behavior, it’s a sign to take seriously.

Is It Ok to Skip A Dog Walk?

It's okay to skip a dog walk when it's too cold or conditions are dangerous. Yes, they're great exercise and most dogs love their outdoor time. But, staying indoors a little more won't affect their health. And, they'll be better off than avoiding risks outside.

5. Keep Them Warm With Clothes

Just as you’ll bundle up for a winter dog walk, clothing and accessories can keep your pet warm and safe, too! Here are some suggestions. 

Coats

A coat helps a dog maintain their body temperature on chilly walks. Be sure to purchase coats from reputable retailers so that they are functional as well as stylish.

This Pet Life Ski Parka is perfect for arctic temperatures (anything below 30 degrees Fahrenheit). It has 3M Thinsulate thermal fabric that retains body heat and is breathable so your pet doesn’t get overheated. And, the Velcro around the belly is easy to put on and take off.

Sweaters or Hoodies

Sweaters or hoodies are great for when it’s cold but not freezing. This Hotel Doggy Hoodie is a sweater combo, so your dog can enjoy the best of both worlds. Whether you’re getting a hoodie, coat or sweater, making sure it fits right is most important.

Boots

Dog boots protect paws in extreme weather. These Guardian Gear Fleece Lined Boots are durable and warm to protect their paws in all types of weather. And, they come in a wide size range for any type of dog.