How cold is it to walk your dog outside?

Walking dogs is a little more confusing when it comes to cold weather. Fortunately, Mental Floss shared a handy infographic by pet insurance company Petplan based on a model developed by Tufts University to determine how dogs respond to weather conditions based on their breed and build. The scale gives the current temperature a score out of 5, with 1 being safe and 5 being “a potentially deadly cold” for the dog. It also offers modifiers for extraneous circumstances. For example, you add 2 to the score if it is humid outside and you subtract 1 point if your dog has a “thick coat” or is used to the cold.

From 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you need to keep an eye on your dog and not let him stay outside too long. For small dogs, the risk of life-threatening cold starts around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, while it starts around 10 degrees for large dogs. As Mental Floss explains, just as boiling temperatures can cause heatstroke, freezing temperatures can pose risks of frostbite and hypothermia in dogs, just like in humans.

Basically, once your thermometer drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you should keep your walks brief. You can also protect your dog from the cold by wrapping your dog in fluffy coats and jackets, as well as water-resistant booties (via Dogington Post). These paw guards not only protect against icy and snowy ground, but also prevent toxic chemicals from products like de-icer from snagging between their toes.

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