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When Is It Too Cold to Walk a Dog?

How cold is too cold for your furry friend?

Linda Raymond/E+ via Getty Images

Once winter weather rolls in, it becomes a lot more difficult to spend time outside, especially if you live in one of the coldest cities in the world. Your dog needs to go for walks, but the lower the temperature, the more dangerous it could be for your canine companion. So when is it too cold for your dog to go for a walk?

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There is not an exact answer to this question, as it depends on your dog’s age, weight, size, fitness level, breed and coat. However, there are some guidelines you can follow if you are a dog owner and looking to take your dog on a winter walk. 

Based on data from the Tufts Animal Care and Condition scale, generally, temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit could be unsafe for small to medium dogs and temperatures around 25 degrees F become dangerous. For small dogs, temperatures could be life-threatening, and prolonged outdoor activity should be avoided at less than 20 degrees F, while for medium and large dogs, the danger zone starts around 10 degrees F.

Wind chill lowers the feel of what the actual temperature is outside. Wind can also cut through a dog’s protective coat, decreasing their ability to keep warm. So before heading out, look at the temperature based on wind chill.

If it is snowing or sleeting, a walk could be a lot more uncomfortable for your dog. When there is any moisture outside, it will soak through their fur and drop their body temperature more quickly. If there is moisture outside, you should try to shorten your walks. 


Knowing what temperatures and conditions are safe for your dog is just one of the many tips for keeping your dog healthy during the winter.