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  • Rachael Ancheril

Protect Your Dogs This Winter

How cold is too cold for your dog to be left outside? If you have breeds that LOVE the outdoors, and would rather stay out than in, like Huskies or Malamutes, for example, they can stay out for extended periods of time, but even they need to warm up in intervals. So how cold is TOO cold really? As Canadians, we know that we have some very unpredictable weather throughout our Winters… Some Winters can be completely frigid, whereas you want to stay curled up in a blanket and a hot cup of tea. And then we have the opposite end of the spectrum, where we have Winters like the one we are currently facing, whereas the ice hasn’t even frozen over, and some days feel so mild as if Spring is near. We, humans, know when our body temperatures are out of whack, and when to call it a day. Not all animals have that same sense, or the ability to move in and out as they please. Especially when their parents are at work for long periods of time and have nobody to let them out throughout the day!

If dogs are left outside for extreme amounts of time, they can get sick, or worse, get hypothermia. This is when the extreme lowering of body temperature happens. When this occurs, the heart rate slows down and can lead to extreme problems, such as neurological problems, comas, kidney failure, slow/no breathing, heart problems, frostbite, and last but not least, death… The good news is, all of these things can be avoided completely!!!

A good way to handle your doggy’s needs to get outside if you work a 9-5 job and can’t get home throughout the day, is to let them out right before you leave for the day, and the second you get back through the door, have a neighbour or a family member drop by a couple of times throughout the day if they have a tenancy to do their business more frequently, or are tiny breeds. You can also bring them to a kennel or doggy daycare so that they get the proper care they need throughout the day. After all, for most of us our dogs are our ‘children’ and if you wouldn’t do that with your kids, why would you do that to your dog?!

Along with this diagram, there are key temperatures to watch out for:

Between the temperatures of approximately 15 degrees Celsius and 10 degrees Celsius there is no evidence of risk for your dog to be outside for longer periods of time.

Between the temperatures of approximately 7 degrees Celsius and 4 degrees Celsius there is likely no risk associated for being outside for a moderate amount of time.

Between the temperatures of approximately 1 degree Celsius and -4 degrees Celsius it could potentially be unsafe, so keep an eye out for your dog while they are outside.

Between the temperatures of approximately -4 degrees Celsius and -9 degrees Celsius, the weather can be very dangerous for your dog to be outside, they will likely be in an out in no time at all.

Between the temperatures of approximately -6 degrees Celsius and -17 degrees Celsius the weather can potentially be life-threatening, so completely avoid having your dog outside for prolonged periods of time.

*Please keep in mind the size of your dog breed; different sizes can handle different temperatures, but having them outside for too long in extreme temperatures that their little feet get frozen, or get sick, is no excuse. Exercise your dog care needs as you would with any other member of your family!

Another idea to think about when walking your dog in cold temperatures, is to buy jackets and boots for them! Bonus is, they look SO cute too!

Written by: Shawna Lloyd (

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