How Long Can Indoor Pets Play Outside in Winter?

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Winter Pet Safety for Indoor Cats and Dogs

In most parts of the country, the cold weather has taken hold for the season! This means that pets are exposed to the elements just like us. If you have indoor cats or dogs, you might be wondering how much outside playtime is safe for indoor pets in winter.

Rule of Thumb

This age-old question really depends on many factors. As a rule of thumb, if you are cold outside, your pet is also cold! However, cold weather dogs and cats with long hair that are traditionally found in cold environments–think Siberian Huskies, Great Pyrenees, Akitas and Maine Coon cats–can withstand much colder temperatures than breeds such as Chihuahuas, Italian Greyhounds or Sphinx cats.

3 Factors for Determining if Your Indoor Pet Should Play Outside

  1. Size
  2. Breed
  3. Hair coat

If your pet has a thick, full winter coat, they may be able to easily withstand temperatures below freezing for long periods of time, given that they have adequate access to shelter, fresh water and food.

Pets with more muscle mass and body fat can withstand colder temperatures for longer periods of time as well.

For our short hair (and no-hair!) pets, it’s best to keep them inside the majority of the time when temperatures drop below 55 to avoid hypothermia and frostbite.

Confirm With Your Veterinarian

The best way to be sure is to ask your veterinarian for a recommendation based on your pet’s size, breed, hair coat as well as your local winter temperatures, which vary greatly from region to region.

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By Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best. Since 2005 Pets Best has been offering pet health insurance plans for dogs and cats across the U.S.


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