Frigid Weather Dangers For Dogs

Frigid Weather Dangers For Dogs

Recently, new laws have been adopted that make it illegal to leave your pet outside in cold weather for over 30 minutes.

And, oddly (in my opinion), many people are up in arms about this new law!

A Maryland law, even makes it illegal to leave livestock outside in extreme temperatures.

Livestock must have a place to get out of the wind, and access to clean dry bedding that would protect them from frost bite.

What They Are Saying

Many owners of large coated dogs (Malamutes, Great Pyrenees, Akitas and the like) say that their dogs live for cold weather and are angry that the law is trying to dictate how to handle their animals in the cold.

One dog owner (on Facebook) said her dog is miserable and paces if brought inside the house for too long during this time of year.


frigid weather and dogs, how cold is too cold for dogs to be outside

On Some Level

On some level, I can understand what these dog owners are saying.

I had a dog, several years ago, that would scream (in pure joy) when he would wake up in the middle of the night and see snow fall.

He absolutely LOVED playing in the snow and scooping it up with his snout and plowing it over his head.

I also enjoy the video of the Labrador Retriever sliding down the snow on his belly.

Many dogs DO love the cold and the snow.

I think many dogs also tolerate the cold weather better than they tolerate the heat.

Extreme Weather Poses Danger For Dogs

But, the truth is that extreme weather (be it cold or hot) poses substantial danger to your pet.

Each year, many dogs freeze to death in the cold.

frigid weather and dogs, how cold is too cold for dogs to be outside

Sadly, many of these dogs freeze to sidewalks and other surfaces.

The dog lies down and his body heat warms the snow underneath him causing slushy conditions; then when the temperature continues to drop the dog can literally freeze to the spot he once found some comfort.

And, if the human is used to leaving the dog outside and is not used to regularly checking on the dog or bringing the dog inside he/she is less apt to realize the temperature has dropped and the dog is in danger of dying.

After all, I don’t pay much attention to the outside temperature until I have to go outside in it.  And, often I underestimate the cold until I am halfway to my destination.

We, as people get busy.

That is Why I am All for This Law!

Don’t Panic

That doesn’t mean you can’t take your dog outside and let him play in the snow!

YOU CAN! frigid weather and dogs, how cold is too cold for dogs to be outside

If he is active, walking, running or playing he will stay warm longer.

And, if you are outside with him; chances are you will “tap” and want to go inside due to cold temperatures before he will.

30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time when a dog is inactive.

Dogs don’t run around and exercise themselves, nor do they understand that when they are cold, activity is what will make them warmer.

Often they curl up and try to get warm, and this poses a problem after a period of time.

It is our job as dog owners to ensure that our dogs are safe, despite what they think they want.

How many of you have children who want to go out and play in the snow without adequate coats, mittens, boots, etc.?

It is your job as a parent to make sure that your child doesn't get frostbite, just like it is your job as a pet owner to make sure that your dog or cat doesn't put himself at risk.

He doesn't understand that he might die if he is left outside too long.

If You Have a Heavy Coated Dog

If you have a heavy coated dog, don’t be discouraged.

Go outside with your buddy and get some exercise.

I love, love, love long walks in the snow!

frigid weather and dogs, how cold is too cold for dogs to be outsideWhen the temperatures are extreme bring him inside and turn down your heat.

Yes, just like I often make the car temperatures too cold in the summer for my liking, to keep my dog comfortable, I can also turn down the heat for my dog in the winter.

As a human, I can bundle up under a blanket or put a space heater near me to make sure my furry friend is more comfortable.

You can also make him a space of solace in a mud room or room that doesn’t have active heat.

If he hates being inside, exercise him outside and make sure he is tired when he comes in so that he naps.

Give him a bone or an elk antler to chew while he is inside.

And, take him out to play often but stay out with him so that you monitor his well being in the cold.

The point is to give your furry friend a place to get out of the wind and extreme temperatures.  And a place where he can have water and food that isn’t frozen.

In Regards to Livestock

People seem to get even angrier about the implications that this has on livestock.

But extreme cold kills, and maims livestock too!

If these animals were left to their own devices, they would migrate to low lying spots like a ravine, gulley or gulch where they could bed down and huddle out of the wind.  They might also find a wooded area that would break the wind around them.

The problem is that we leave them on a small area of land which limits their ability to wander and find security.

If you have livestock, you owe it to them to provide them with a space that they can get out of extreme weather!

No one is saying to bring your cow into your house, but it is your job to provide food, water, and shelter.

What do you think?





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  1. Lisa says:

    I really don’t think these laws are out of line. I think there are too many people who own dogs and think they are fine to be outside for extended periods of time when they really can’t, not without risk to their well being. I own three small dogs, a Pomeranian, a Shih Tzu and a Chihuahua. They all have different tolerances to cold and heat and observation can tell you an awful lot about that if you pay attention! My Pom hates the heat and loves the cold, just like many larger breeds with double coats, but as she is still quite small at 11 pounds her feet get cold very quickly and she needs to be convinced that it is time to go inside. The Shih Tzu, although has a deceptively “thick” curly coat, doesn’t tolerate the cold very well and of course our Chihuahua, who is just 7 months now, is not let outside unless it is above 32 degrees, and then only for a few minutes to do her business. Otherwise she uses the pee pads inside. So people just need to be educated about their dogs and pay attention to what they themselves tell you!


  2. Connie says:

    I’m in agreement with this law. When it comes to animals one needs to think of them as a two year old for the rest of their lives. You are the Parent and should inform yourself as to what is best for your animals! NOT what you think your child/animal wants. All of this comes with education. We all want what is best for our animals! For me I want mine to have a long healthy life with lots of love!!


  3. Well I have 3 sheep and they have alot of wool. They have their shed and . Unfrozen water. Plus 3 geese which are known to sit outside in the cold but I give them hay to sit on plus they have a big dog house to get into. Great Pyrenees at least the one I had did not like cold frozen sleet or rain snow she was fine in. She sat under a cedar tree. But I think most folks think all dogs and cats can stay out in the frigid weather they can go under our house,or in the shed.


  4. Mulewhisperer says:



  5. Jamie says:

    I never like the government to tell us what to do and try to control our choices in life. However, if people acted more responsibly, especially with our loved ones (our pets) and the livestock that feeds us, then they wouldn’t feel the need to tell us how to behave. If you can’t care enough to ensure your animal’s safety and comfort, you have no business having an animal. What if you were stuck outside in the snow with no choice for shelter and warmth, even though you were wearing Arctic gear?


  6. Paula says:

    Absolutely agree.
    If you don’t agree, you’re simply one of those people that don’t want to accept the responsibility that definitely goes along with owning an animal.


  7. Terry Smith says:

    I grew up in Nebraska and spent time on a farm. I’m 67 so I have seen a lot of bad winters. Ranchers here don’t build sheds for their cows and never have. I have seen 10 to 15 feet snow drifts and them with the wind chill below -20. I have never seen or heard of one cow that died from the cold. they group together and as long as they have food and water they will live. I know a dog breaded here that has 20 or more dogs here and breads them they have dog houses and the puppy’s have a heat lamp in theirs and they do fine. It got to -13F not counting the wind chill here this year and he didn’t lose a dog. If you have a dog that lives inside with you yes they could die from the cold their coat in not set up for bad weather. My puppy lives with me and goes every where with me he loves the snow but I never leave him out for long times. People that have lived here for long times work out in the cold all day long no problem but bring someone from Cal and see how long they last in the wind and cold. I think it all depends on what your use to. Use your head when it comes to weather. Look at all the fools that leave their pet in the car with their windows rolled up in the middle of summer and wander why their pet is dead.


  8. Joan Gomez says:

    I think it is sad that people need to be told this. My fur baby is treated just like my children were. She is part husky we have a heated dog house. But do not leave her out for more than one hour at a time during the really cold months (below freezing). During the summer months we have a fountain with a pool, the water circulates and is filtered but fresh filtered water is also added on a daily basis.
    I think it is funny because my husband did not want a dog and he spoils her rotten. He even makes her her own pot of chicken soup once a month.


  9. Elaine Robertson says:

    This is sucsensible article and one that any animal owner should pay heed to. We live in Tenerfie, Canary Isles, where apart from the mountainous areas, never suffer from extrme cold. We do, however, suffer from extreme heat in the summer, especially when there ids a “calima” a weather condition which starts with sand being sucked up into the atmosphere in North Africa which is then wind born to us, by which time it is dense, like a fog. There is usually no wind and the sand hangs in the air, heated by the sun. The heat cannot escape and it can be very difficult to breathe. We always keep our pets inside and only allow them out for short periods of time to relieve themselves;even play is unadvisable as temperatures can reach in excess of 40ªC well over 100ªF. If we own animals we MUST be responsible for their welfare.


    Minette Reply:

    I have written many articles on the dangers of the heat 🙂


  10. Here in Miami we don’t have the problem of dogs being too cold 🙂
    Heat on the other hand is an entirely different issue


  11. […] this means your dog isn’t used to freezing temperatures or rough weather for long periods of time.  His tolerance to the cold is much less because he is […]

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