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Photo: Jaromir Chalabala (Shutterstock)
Winter may not be everyone’s favorite time of year, but it does produce some of the best (or at least cutest) content on the internet: videos from Puppies play in the snow. But a quick frolic in the fresh powder is one thing – how about staying outdoors or longer periods of time?
In short, the amount of time a dog can spend outdoors in cold temperatures depends on a number of factors, including breed, size, age, health, and coat. Here’s what you should know.
How long can dogs stay outside in winter?
When it comes to how long dogs can safely stay outside on colder days, there is no one-size-fits-all rule, they say American Kennel Club (AKC). But in general, larger dogs with thicker coats can stay outside longer in cold weather than smaller single-layered or hairless dogs, who can spend more time outside on hot days but are not prepared for the cold.
In addition to their size and breed, you also need to consider factors such as your dog’s age, general health, and length of coat when determining how long it is safe for him to stay outside in the winter, but be a veterinarian Dr. Sarah Wooten shared these guidelines with the AKC:
- Puppies younger than 8 weeks: Stay indoors in cold weather
- Toy breeds: Stay indoors in cold weather
- Brachycephalic races (ex. dogs with short noses, such as pugs and French bulldogs): keep indoors (especially when exercising)
- Smaller breeds: Limit trips in temperatures below 32 ° F to 10-15 minutes
- Larger races: Limit trips in temperatures below 32 ° F to 30-60 minutes
- Arctic races: Can stay outside in the cold indefinitely as long as they have acclimatized
the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has an even simpler recommendation: “If it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.”
Signs of hypothermia in dogs
If a dog stays outside too long in cold weather, there is a risk that they will develop hypothermia, which sets in when their body temperature drops below 99 ° F. In addition to shaking and curling up for warmth, other signs of hypothermia in dogs include dilated pupils, an increased heart rate followed by a slower heart rate, sluggishness, and delayed reflexes, respectively AKC.
For more information on protecting dogs in cold temperatures, see some of the resources at the AKC, ASPCA, and Red Cross.