When is it too cold to walk your dog? Advice around low temperatures, how cold is too cold for dogs

With temperatures plummeting, it’s important to keep your dog warm during their walk

Temperatures have been dropping across the UK this week, with the Met Office issuing yellow warnings for snow and ice.

People are being told to prepare for “snow and hail showers” as bitterly cold conditions sweep across the country, with temperatures expected to plummet to as low as -5C in some parts.

With temperatures dropping, it’s important to keep your dog warm during the winter weather and when you take them out for their daily walk.

So how do you know when it’s too cold to walk your dog and how can you keep them warm? Here’s everything you need to know.

When is it too cold to walk your dog?

With the UK experiencing a cold snap many dog walkers are wondering when is it too cold to take their pets out for a walk. It can be a difficult decision when temperatures are low.

A woman walks a dog through the snow in Glasgow in 2021 (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

Common sense must be taken into account when deciding whether or not to take your dog out for a walk in the cold and for how long to expose them to the elements, while considering the benefits of exercise.

Academics from Tufts University, in Massachusetts, America, say any temperature between -1C and 4C could be “potentially unsafe” for small and medium sized dogs. Whilst for large dogs this is between -6C and 1C.

They also advised that potentially dangerous temperatures are -4C for small dogs and between -4C to -9C for medium dogs, with them advising pet owners to not let their animals be exposed to such low temperatures for a prolonged period of time.

When is it too cold for a dog to sleep outside?

According to the RSPCA dogs should not be kept in temperatures below 10C, it’s vital that during cold weather if you keep your dog outside of your home that they are kept warm and not exposed to the elements. They also “advise monitoring the temperature daily”.

How can you keep your dog warm?

It’s important to keep your dog warm during unseasonably cold weather. Depending on the breed, some might have thick furry coats, so hold off on having these cut and let their fur grow out during the winter months. If you have a short-haired dog you can help they stay warm by buying them a coat to wear in colder weather, this would need to be introduced gradually so your dog can get used to the coat and feel comfortable in it.

If you plan to walk your dog at night it’s a good idea to invest in a reflective coat, along with a flashing collar or light attachment that will help both you and your dog stay visible on dark wintery nights.

What advice is there for walking your dog in low temperatures?

There are lots of things you can do to keep your dog warm this winter. The Dogs Trust have put together eight top tips for keeping our four-legged-friends safe and warm when the temperatures start to drop. They are:

  • If it’s snowing, keep your dog on a lead
  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and an ID tag and is microchipped
  • Wipe your dog’s legs, feet and stomach after walkies
  • Never leave your dog in the car
  • Don’t let your dog walk on frozen ponds
  • Keep antifreeze away from your pet
  • Make sure that both you and your dog are dressed appropriately for the weather
  • Regularly check your dog’s leads, collars and harnesses