You might think that with our relatively mild winters, walking your dog in the winter is safe in Arizona. And it is, most days of the year in many places. But we live in a big state with mountainous regions and desert valleys that can experience extreme shifts in temperatures overnight. If it’s too cold outside, it can be harmful to take your dog for a walk—here’s what you need to know.

Is It Harmful to Walk Your Dog in the Cold?

Yes—dogs can easily get frostbite if it’s too cold outside. Their sensitive noses and paw pads are often the first to suffer. Risks increase as the temperature drops, and the longer that your dog stays outside, the more harmful those cold temperatures become. Short walks in the cold are okay for some dogs, but not for others. If your dog is shivering or hesitant to go outside, just let them do their business and quickly head back indoors.

How Cold Is Too Cold for Dogs?

In most parts of Arizona, it doesn’t usually get cold enough for it to be dangerous to venture outside. But if you’re headed up to the mountains for some skiing or fun in the snow, make sure your pet has winter gear, too. If it’s below 20ºF outside, dogs can quickly develop frostbite or even hypothermia.

Three Tips for Walking Your Dog in Winter in Arizona

1: Check the Wind Chill Factor

No matter what the thermometer says, if there’s a wind blowing, it’s going to feel much colder.   Even if it’s 45ºF outside, the wind chill could make it feel like it’s below freezing. When it’s windy, dogs lose their body heat much more quickly, and frostbite can happen in a matter of minutes. Go by the wind chill forecast, and bundle up your pup or cut their walk short if necessary. 

2: Put on a Sweater

Puppies, elderly dogs, small dogs, and short-haired dogs should all wear sweaters or coats when it’s cold outside. Wearing a coat is especially important for pets that have been sick or are recovering from an injury. Boots are also a good idea if there has been freezing rain or snow, and they can prevent sore paws from ice melt salts as well. 

3: Keep Playtime Short

Some dogs love the cold and snow—Bernese, St. Bernards, Huskies, and Samoyeds would all be happy to romp for hours in some freshly fallen snow. But even if they’re playing happily and aren’t shivering, they could still be cold. If their ears or their skin underneath their fur feels cold to the touch, it’s time for them to go inside.

Veterinary Care for Every Season

We love the great outdoors and the beauty of Arizona in the winter, but we know how dangerous winter can be for pets as well. Always watch your dog closely for signs that they’re getting cold, and put on their sweater and boots (if they’ll let you). 

The team at Anasazi Animal Clinic is here for you all year round and at any season of your pet’s life. No matter what your pet needs, we’ll always give them the very best veterinary care. To make an appointment, just send us a message or give us a call at 480-497-0505 today.


Photo by Ludovic Migneault on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 1/15/2024.