Every dog parent loves taking their furry friend for a walk. But when winter comes and the snow starts to fall, you might question whether walking your dog like usual is okay.
The time a dog can walk in the snow varies based on breed, size, and coat type. Generally, short walks of 15-30 minutes are recommended. Monitor your dog for signs of cold or discomfort and adjust accordingly.
Though most dog owners enjoy walking their dogs in the snow, some feel nervous. So, if you’re here looking for an answer, you’ve found the right page for your queries!
Is It Okay To Walk My Dog In The Snow?
Absolutely. It’s completely okay to walk your dog in the snow. Regardless of the weather, it’s essential that you take your dog out for a walk to get some exercise. Similar to taking precautions while taking your dog out in warm weather to prevent heat stroke, in winter, too, you have to be cautious, or else it can be hazardous.
Let alone walking, dogs love playing in the snow and can handle low temperatures. But prolonged exposure to extreme cold can lead to frostbite or hypothermia, and small breeds are more vulnerable to cold weather. Hence, providing your dog with the proper winter gear, such as boots, sweaters, and jackets, for a walk in the snow is essential.
Although snow doesn’t hurt anybody, the cold weather should worry you. Dogs feel cold as much as you do, and the cold ground can be uncomfortable for them to walk as usual. In such weather, if you plan on staying outside with your dog for about 20 minutes or longer, consider getting boots to protect its paws from the harsh cold.
How Long Can A Dog Walk In The Snow?
The answer would vary depending on the temperature, your dog’s size, health, and age. Usually, healthy and active dogs won’t have any issues walking and playing in the snow, but if your dog is old, has health issues, or is still young, you shouldn’t keep them in the cold for long.
In moderate temperatures, you can take your dog for a walk for about 30 minutes, but in low temperatures, you should limit the time and go out only when necessary.
With proper winter gear, a large healthy breed can enjoy walking in the snow for around 30 minutes or longer, but 15 to 20 minutes is more than enough for smaller breeds. Therefore, you need to be more cautious and have them wear sweaters or jackets for protection.
Dogs are naturally playful and would be excited to play outside without knowing the consequences. This is why you should be aware and avoid walking long distances during snowfall to hurry back home quickly when the temperature drops. Or you can also go for multiple short walks in a day.
Here are some points to keep in mind while taking your dog out in the snow:
- Always make your dog wear boots, sweaters, and jackets while going for a walk in cold temperatures to keep them warm and comfortable.
- If the temperature is below freezing, the best option is to choose alternate exercises, such as nose work games, obstacle courses, scent training, climbing stairs, and more.
- Check possible signs of frostbite on the ears, paws, and tail.
- Most dogs can put up with cold temperatures and walk fine without boots, but you should shorten their timing outside to prevent frostbite.
- It’s best to walk during the day when the weather is warm.
- Keep your dog from licking the snow outside, as ice-defrosting chemicals are primarily used and are highly toxic for pets.
- Always keep them on a leash to avoid falling, slipping, or getting lost.
- Limit the time outside to be safe during extreme weather conditions.
- If you notice your dog shivering is confused or anxious, consult a vet immediately.
If you take your dog out for a walk without boots, once home, let the ice on the dog’s foot melt completely and rinse with hot water to remove toxic chemicals. Also, remember to trim your dog’s toe hair to prevent snow or ice balls from forming or getting stuck on his feet, as it can be painful and uncomfortable while walking.
Lastly, as soon you reach home, check your dog’s belly, ears, and paws for any clumps of ice and dry them thoroughly.
How To Know If It’s Too Cold For My Dog Outside?
The answer is simple! If the temperature outside is cold for you, it’s probably cold for your dog too.
Regardless of the dog’s size or whether they’re young or old, they are more prone to frostbite and hypothermia, so take precautions while going out.
Also, remember that walking in the snow is more challenging than on grass. So if you notice your dog getting tired quickly, avoid going further.
So, how do you tell if your dog has frostbite or hypothermia? If your dog has frostbite, it may show symptoms like cold skin sensitive to touch, redness, or swelling. It may be a sign of hypothermia if you see your dog shivering, having stiff muscles, pale gums, confusion, or difficulty walking.
Moreover, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can make it challenging for dogs to regulate their body temperature, causing them to slow down, whine, or become anxious. If you see such signs, it’s best to go home immediately and warm your dog with a blanket.
How To Protect My Dog During Walks In The Snow?
There’s nothing quite like seeing your dog playing in the snow, but all dogs are not equal, and some don’t do well in cold weather conditions.
Dogs with thick fur do well in cold temperatures, but short-haired dogs don’t adapt well to colder climates.
So if you’re a dog parent, considering the thickness of your dog’s fur can help you determine the time required to be out in the snow.
Here are some tips to protect your dog in the snow:
- Invest In Dog Boots
Like humans, dogs need boots too! Consider getting boots for your furry friend (affiliate link) to protect its paws while walking in the snow. Dogs need to wear boots because exposure to harmful chemicals like rock salt and snow defrosting chemicals can harm your dog.
Also, boots are recommended to prevent ice balls from forming between their paws.
But some dogs are fussy and don’t like wearing boots. If your dog is one among them, you can instead apply protective wax cream on its paws to protect the skin from drying out.
- Keep Your Dog Warm
While large dog breeds might be okay with boots, certain breeds, such as chihuahuas, are vulnerable to cold weather, as they have low body fat or short-haired dogs like boxers and dachshunds.
So it becomes essential to keep them warm with a sweater or coat while going out in the snow to prevent them from shivering in the cold.
- Watch Out For Dangerous Chemicals
You should take note of this! It’s common for people to use chemicals like salt or antifreeze to defrost the ice during winter, and these are highly toxic for dogs.
So if you’re taking your dog for a walk, avoid routes or areas where people use these chemicals, as they can be hazardous when ingested. These toxic chemicals are popular around parking lots and subways.
Rock salt or road grit isn’t toxic but can irritate your dog’s skin and cause an upset stomach when eaten. On the other hand, antifreeze has a sweet taste and can attract dogs, but it’s highly toxic.
Hence, if your dog happens to be exposed to such chemicals during a walk, ensure that you thoroughly rinse its paws as soon as you reach home to prevent them from licking the area.
- Keep Your Dog On A Leash
During snow time, walking your dog can be risky because the road will be slippery, lakes and ponds will be frozen, and there’s no telling how solid the frozen surface is. So, if you’re walking your dog, firmly grab its leash and prevent it from roaming freely because if it slips and falls, you would too.
Moreover, allowing your dog to roam freely on the snow is unsafe because you never know when your dog will fall through a frozen pool or pond.
Final Words on How Long Can A Dog Walk In The Snow
Dogs love playing in the snow, but as a dog parent, you should take safety precautions to keep your dog safe from any dangers during colder climates.
If you want to protect your furry friend during a walk in the snow, ensure that your dog is wearing protective gear and limit the time outside depending on your dog’s health.
Prolonged exposure to colder temperatures can cause adverse health issues, so bear in mind the consequences and pay attention to your dog’s habits.
Moreover, if you see your dog behaving abnormally, head inside immediately and consult a vet if necessary.
- “Winter Dog Walking Tips: Cold Weather Advice” – American Kennel Club (AKC) Link: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/winter-dog-walking-tips/
- “Cold Weather Safety Tips” – ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Link: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips
Some of My Favorite Products For Dog Owners
I hope this article has helped you just a bit in everyday life as a dog owner. Being a dog owner for more than 25 years, I’ve tried many different products with varying success, but these products below are some that I can highly recommend to every dog and their owner without hesitation!
These links are affiliate links, so if you do end up using the links, I will earn a commission. But it’s products that I use daily myself, and I have the utmost praise for.
Dog Food: Every dog needs to eat correctly, and finding the best food for your dog can be challenging, as the market is absolutely flooded with products. But since 2015 when the company was founded, I’ve been using Ollie Petfood. With their product being tailor-made to suit every dog’s specific needs, and as my dogs love the product, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a product I will continue to use for many years more. If you use my link you can get 50% off your first order.
Dog Training: If you’ve ever owned a puppy, you know that it requires a lot of training to grow into a well-behaved adult. Brain Training for Dogs has helped me immensely with the mental training part of raising a dog, and it’s something I strongly recommend you consider.
Grooming: If you have a dog in your home, you’re going to need a brush, and for this, I recommend a Hertzko Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush. For that price, you simply can’t beat this brush for everyday grooming.
If you’re looking for the most up-to-date recommendations, check out my recommended products section that I’ve created to help every dog owner!