Dogs love the snow, and it’s easy to imagine them frolicking in a winter wonderland. In fact, there are many pictures of dogs playing outside in the snow on social media. However, snow also brings some risks for dogs – especially if you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall or extended cold snaps. ‘How long can I take my dog out in The snow?’ is a serious question for dog owners. When heavy snows fall and stay for days, your dog can face dangers like becoming trapped in your yard or unable to get to their food or water.
If your dog drinks from an automatic water bowl that cannot be exposed to freezing temperatures, they may go thirsty unless you break through the ice to fill it with fresh water. You may have to dig out their outdoor kennel or make sure they have a safe place inside before going out again.
In addition, snow-covered ground can pose dangers for older dogs who have difficulty seeing icy patches or navigating slippery surfaces. Even if you don’t anticipate these problems at your location, it’s important to understand how much time you can safely spend outdoors with your dog during the winter.
How Long Can Dogs Stay Out In The Snow?
The answer depends on the breed and the amount of snowfall in your area. It’s a no brainer to know a Husky will be more suited to snowy conditions than a short haired Dachshund. Dogs can tolerate lower temperatures when the air is very dry, but wet snow will cool them more quickly.
If you know there will be a heavy snowfall, it’s better to keep your dog indoors until it stops. Otherwise, the following length of time is a good guide: 1 hour if the snowfall is light, less than about 1 inch. 30 minutes if the snowfall is moderate, up to 3 inches. 10 minutes if the snowfall is heavy, 3 inches or more.
If your dog is outside during a snowstorm and you can’t see how long they’ve been out, don’t panic. Instead, look on the underside of their paws for a clue. If they’re clean, they’ve only been out for a short time, but if they’re covered in snow, they’ve been out for a while.
Which Breeds Should You Keep Indoors?
Dogs that are more sensitive to cold weather include Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pekingese, as well as Greyhounds, Poodles, Pekingese, and Shih-Tzu. If your dog falls into one of these categories, it’s best to keep them indoors during the coldest months, and make sure their water bowl cannot freeze in unheated outdoor kennels. Other breeds can be kept outdoors, but you’ll want to make extra sure they have a warm place to spend time if it gets really cold. If you’re not positive which breed your dog is, ask your veterinarian.
Which Breeds Are Hardier?
If you want to keep your dog outdoors regardless of the weather, some breeds are hardier than others. Northern breeds, such as Huskies, Malamutes, and Samoyeds, are bred for cold weather, but even short-haired dogs may need added protection in severe cold.
During a heavy snowfall, it’s important to keep your dog’s fur clean to avoid frostbite. If you can’t let them outside during a blizzard, it’s best to keep them inside and walk them on snow that is not too deep. Some short-haired breeds, such as greyhounds, can be kept in the house during the coldest months, but will likely enjoy the extra warmth of a sweater or a doggy sleeping bag to stay comfortable.
Dangers For Dogs In The Snow
While snowfall is generally not a problem for healthy dogs, heavy snowfall or extended periods of cold temperatures pose some dangers. Firstly, as we explained previously, your dog may become trapped in an un-shoveled area or be unable to access water that has frozen in their bowl. If you have an automatic water bowl, it will need to be brought inside when the temperature drops below freezing to prevent it from freezing.
If you use an outdoor automatic feeder, you’ll need to make sure it has a heated pad to keep the food from freezing, and you may want to bring the feeder in during extreme cold to prevent it from getting buried. If you do see your dog trying to dig to reach water that has frozen, you can bring a small pot inside and fill it with lukewarm water for them to drink from, or put a few pebbles in a dish.
Frozen ponds and lakes where the ice is showing signs of cracking and melting are just as dangerous for dogs as they are for humans. A dog will find it just as hard as a human to escape a plunge through the icy surface. A freezing body of water can be fatal very quickly for a dog. Keep an eye out for frozen ponds and lakes and put your dog on a leash to avoid any accidents.
How To Keep Your Dog Safe While Outdoors
Make sure your dog’s coat is appropriate for the weather. Dogs who spend time outdoors during the winter should have a coat or sweater that protects their skin from the cold as well as from moisture. If your dog is a short-haired breed, they may benefit from a coat that repels melting snow. If it has a warm jacket on the question, ‘how long can I take my dog out in the snow?’ gets a different answer as your four legged friend is better protected from the icy elements. A warm jacket can allow your dog to spend up to 50% more time playing in the snow.
If you walk your dog on sidewalks or streets during a snowfall, you’ll also want a waterproof coat to protect you both from the elements. You can also use a doggy backpack to bring warm clothing with you on walks during cold weather. Feed your dog indoors whenever possible. If your dog is fed outdoors, make sure they have a warm, dry place to eat. Bring your dog indoors if it starts to snow heavily, or if temperatures drop below freezing.
Get a Jacket For your Dog
Even if your dog doesn’t have the same bodily functions as you, that doesn’t mean they can’t get cold in the winter. Even though dogs have a fur coat and are naturally well equipped to deal with hot weather, when temperatures drop their natural protections aren’t nearly enough to keep them comfortable. If you live somewhere that gets cold in winter, or even just in a climate where it gets chilly during the day and drops further at night then it’s important for you to think about buying a jacket for your dog before the temperatures drop too low. You may like: Best Gifts For Labrador Retrievers
How to Find the Right Fit
As with human clothing, a dog jacket must be fitted properly in order for it to be useful. A dog jacket that is too tight will be uncomfortable for your pooch, whereas a loose jacket doesn’t offer the same degree of protection. Therefore, when you’re buying a jacket for your dog, it’s important to select the right size. It’s best to measure your dog to make sure they have the right size, but if you don’t have a measuring tape, don’t worry. Take a look at the size chart provided by the manufacturer, and choose the right size for your dog.
In Conclusion – How Long Can I Take my Dog Out in The Snow?
Dogs love the snow, but extreme cold can be dangerous. If you know there is going to be an extended period of cold temperatures, it is best to keep your dog indoors until temperatures rise again. While light snowfall is not a problem for most dogs, you’ll want to keep an eye on the weather to know when the precipitation will end.
Dogs who spend time outdoors in the winter should have warm clothing to protect against the cold, snow, and moisture. You can also bring warm clothing with you in a doggy backpack to prevent your dog from getting too cold during walks. When outside, make sure your dog has a warm, dry place to eat and has access to fresh water. When in doubt, keep your dog indoors during the coldest months of the year to ensure they stay safe and healthy.
Hurtta Extreme Weather Jacket for Dogs
Coming with a warming hood that can be lifted to protect the ears and head of your dog, the Hurtta extreme winter jacket comes in 9 sizes to fit almost any sized dog and provide a high level of protection from the cold.
The design reflects your dog’s heat, insulating it from the cold. A sturdy body strap keeps the eco friendly dog jacket firmly in place. We found a great price on Amazon (We may get a small commission for purchases).
- You may like: Best Dog Blankets For Winter (and Cold Spells)