Don’t Freeze Your Dog

In light of the sub-freezing temps around the country, we’re re-posting advice about dogs and cold weather.

Im ready to come inside

I’m ready to come inside

In January, 2009, we spoke to Dr. Eric Ruhland, a veterinarian from Hastings, Minnesota, (current temp today: 1, feels like -12) and asked him about his guidelines for keeping dogs safe in this frigid weather.

1. Small Dogs (under 20 pounds, up to 50)

Smaller breeds get colder faster. Keep them outdoors no more that five minutes.

Why? Small dogs, like Yorkies, have a larger surface to volume ratio – which means more surface area and smaller bodies (the opposite of an elephant which has a lot of volume).

2. Large Dogs (over 50 pounds)

Larger dogs, like German Shepherds, can be outside up to 10 minutes in this freezing weather.

3. An Outdoor Dog?

If you have a dog that’s always outside no matter what, they need an enclosed area of an enclosed exclusion from the elements that has at least six inches of bedding. There are laws in every state for keeping a dog safe and outdoors. As an example, here is Minnesota’s law.

4. For All Dogs

For all dogs, watch for frostbite. Dr. Ruhland says there are several areas to be concerned about:

  • Noses (they are wet and can easily freeze)
  • The inside back of the thighs (almost no hair!)
  • The insides of ears
  • Ear tips

And Dr. Ruhland’s rule of thumb? If you think it’s cold outside, so does your dog.

Thanks Dr. Ruhland!

– Susan

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