Keep Your Dog Safe From the Polar Vortex or a Cold Winter

miniature dachshund in the snow
For those who have experienced the polar vortex or a cold winter, here are some vital actions to protect your dog.

For those who have experienced the polar vortex or a cold, snowy, bitter winter, here are some vital actions to protect your dog. We live in Canada and our miniature dachshund doesn’t like to walk around in -40 degrees! If you are wondering about what that means in Fahrenheit or Celsius : -40 degrees is so cold that it is the point where both temperature scales meet! Millions of people are confronted with dangerously low winter temperatures. Most do not know how to deal with such disruptive weather events. Indeed, it is not only humans who suffer from freezing temperatures: dogs and cats are also in danger. There’s no way you’re leaving your pet out there to freeze to death! Here are some tips to ensure you minimize the impact of winter on your pet:

1. What Temperature is too Cold to Leave a Dog Outside?

Quick answer: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog

Winter rules are simple: don’t assume that your dog’s fur protects it from the elements like your big, warm coat does. Yes, there are some cold weather dogs such as huskies but they are no match for a polar vortex. It is important to always check that your dog is properly equipped. We were surprised to discover that some dog clothing brands offer little patches that change color when the temperature is too cold and the coat no longer protects your pet enough.

Is 40 degrees too cold for a dog to be outside?

Puppies and short-haired breeds should come inside anytime the temperature goes below 40 degrees. It’s a must!

Being Prepared to Keep Your Pup Warm During the Winter

We found the perfect winter coat for our pup. It took us a while because breeds like dachshund are notoriously hard to shop for. We have mountain-type of weather here in Montréal so being prepared is essential. There is no question regarding whether or not a dog needs a coat. Unless it’s a sledding dog or any type of dog with a heavy fur coat…you need clothing for your pet.

2. Protecting dog paws in winter

Extreme temperatures mean protecting everything: from head to paw. You need mittens, enough to cover your head and neck… well, so does your dog! The ends of the dogs cool down very quickly. You can put boots on your dog to protect him. Before investing, however, it is important to note that limiting the time spent outdoors when temperatures are very low is the best solution. No dog should be left outdoors for long periods of time in extreme temperatures.

3. Protect your dog from salt and antifreeze

Protect your dog from winter weather hazards such as salt on sidewalks and antifreeze, which can be toxic. Rock salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate your pets’ foot pads. Our dog absolutely refuses to walk in salt and cries in pain when his paws are attacked by salt in the street. Be sure to wipe all legs with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his mouth. You must also make sure that your pet’s legs and pads are not chapped or cracked. Small dog boots help a lot to protect against these irritants.

4. Warning: heating pads are a risk

Heated beds and heating pads may be useful, but they should be used with caution. Check frequently to make sure everything is fine: that there are no exposed wires that could cause a fire and that no items remain lit while you are away from home.

5. Never leave your dog tied outside when shopping.

We have seen this several times in temperatures ranging from -10 degrees Celsius to -30 degrees. This is not acceptable. Be aware that authorities or security guards tend to rescue dogs left outside in such hot weather. Many of them will also report owners for animal abuse. 5 minutes outside can be deadly to your dog so don’t leave them out in such hot weather!

6. Extra Animal Safety Tip: Keep Cats Safe During Winter

Keep your cats indoors, let them enjoy the outdoors only under direct supervision. Cats (and some wild animals) will enjoy a warm car engine in winter and may still be under the hood of your car hours later. Hit the hood to scare them before you start your car. Consider making an insulated cat box so that they have a warm place that’s not a potential danger to them.

How to Keep Your Dog Warm?

So how cold is too cold for a dog to be outside?

dog winter temperatures infographic

This super useful chart is based on this detailed winter dog care PDF available for free thanks to Tufts University.


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