Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images
It is so cold it hurts for many of us humans. But what about dogs? Is it safe to slip some rubber booties on Norman and take him for a walk in the chill of winter?
Dr. Kim Smyth, a staff veterinarian with pet insurance company Petplan, gets questions like this every winter, so she created a chart based on an assessment scale developed at Tufts University. It's straightforward: Just find the outdoor temperature, factoring in wind chill and how cold it actually feels, and then look at the size of your dog. Green means it's safe to go outside, yellow means you should be cautious, orange is dangerous, and red is potentially life-threatening.
Smyth talked about the chart on WBUR's Here & Now, explaining that there are some caveats — for instance, a mountain dog in Alaska is conditioned to be in the cold, whereas your average dachshund who wakes up in a warm bed in the city is probably not. Though, as a general rule, she says, "Under 30 degrees [-1.6 degrees Celsius], factoring in the wind chill, it's not going to be safe for any dog to be outside for an extended period of time."
Here's the chart which handily includes Celsius in addition to Fahrenheit. (In short, anything above 12 degrees Celsius should be fine for pretty much any dog, while temperatures below minus one degree are potentially risky for most dog breeds.)