Lyle Says: Baby, It’s Still Cold Outside.


While January (historically our coldest month) is now behind us, it’s still plenty chilly out there—especially for your dog. In Minnesota dog owners have several more weeks when it’s important to be mindful of the thermometer and wind chill factor.

It might seem like dogs are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s not true. While some thick-coated and longer-haired dogs are bred to be more tolerant of cold weather, any dog can get frostbite or hypothermia.

To help you decide how long your pup can be outside for potty, longer walks or other outdoor activities this time of year, we’ve compiled some practical cold weather advice from the most respected pet welfare organizations.

How cold is too cold for my dog? In addition to breed and coat, your pup’s age, weight, usual activity level, and overall health should be considered when determining how long they can safely be outside when temps are below 32 degrees. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that dog owners “be aware of [their particular] pet’s tolerance for cold weather and adjust accordingly. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.”

Even if your dog enjoys being outside in the winter, leaving them in a cold car poses a serious threat of hypothermia.

The American Kennel Club describes cars without the heat running in the winter as “rolling refrigerators, conducting cold from the outside…Cars have little to no insulation against outside conditions. So, while your vehicle may shelter your dog from the wind and elements, it does not protect from frigid or freezing temperatures.”

The Humane Society of The United States requests, “If you see a pet left out in the cold, speak out.” If you sense that a dog or other animal is not being kept in weather-appropriate conditions, consider politely letting the owner know you’re concerned, or contact your local animal control or Humane Society. Nobody wants to rat out a neighbor, but dogs can’t advocate for themselves. It’s better to ensure a dog’s safety than to later be sorry that you didn’t say something.

Bottom line: As Minnesotans we are made of hardy stock—and many of us would like to believe our dogs enjoy winter outdoor activities as much as we do. When in doubt, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises, “If it’s too cold for you [to stay outside or in a car], it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside.”

If you are looking for a warm and dry place for your pup to play or stay, check out Downtown Dogs. We make daycare and boarding easy for you with flexible drop off and pick up times, a wide variety of play options, and free parking or curbside “Fetch and Retrieve.”

The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian. When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph Bernstein and his wife, Abbe.