The Big Chill – keep your dog warm

It has been colder in Chicago these last two days than it has been in decades. Yesterday morning my thermometer outside my window showed -20 degrees – that’s Fahrenheit! Almost everything closed – even the post office!

Thermometer at my house
My thermometer read -20 degrees on January 30th.

It was so cold that Metra used flames near the train track switches to keep them warm! This temperature drop was extreme!
CNN reported: When it’s this cold, Chicago sets its train tracks on fire. Image from

Someone on NPR said only let your dog out for a minute or he might get frostbite. Another person was walking her dog at the beach.

But your dog needs to do his business, so what do you do?

Buffy dressed for -20 degrees

Since Buffy is blind, it often takes her longer to find her way down the porch stairs and back up again. Sometimes she gets “lost” in our driveway, unable to find the stairs. The first time I let her outside, I used a short leash, led her down the stairs, and told her to “go potty.” This helped her move along a little quicker, but she didn’t seem too cold—maybe that’s because even to do a quick pee break, I  dressed her in a sweater AND a coat.

After breakfast, I put on her booties (PAWZ rubber booties work best on her), plus put her coat on over her sweater.

I let her decide how far to walk. This time she walked two houses before finishing her business.

With wind chills around -45 degrees, we didn’t want to stay out too long!

The rest of the day, and the next, I never let her go outside without her coat on to protect her from the wind. I left her sweater on in the house since it was a bit chilly inside. At night, I covered her up with two big bath towels to stay warm and in the morning, she still lay under the covers. She liked being cozy!

Protect your dog from the cold:

  • A sweater helps protect some areas, like their chest, better than a coat.
  • Put a coat on over a sweater to protect against the wind.
  • Use booties. That snow is cold! If your dog makes a big puddle and gets her paws wet, at least they won’t freeze!
  • Let your dog decide how long she wants to stay out. Today it warmed to -2 and we walked up and down the block instead of just a few houses. Limit your time outdoors.
  • Come up with indoor games, like throwing the ball or hide and seek.

What do you do with your dog on extremely cold days?

Here are some other ideas that Paws Chicago promotes:

Tips to keep your pets safe in the cold outdoors
Image from:/

31 thoughts on “The Big Chill – keep your dog warm”

  1. We had a nice amount of snow here (much to my Huskies’ joy), and thankfully, the polar vortex only cramped our style for a few days requiring us to stay inside. Of course, all the indoor time did not make for happy Huskies! Today, after having negative degrees, we are at a balmy 60! Crazy Mother Nature! I have a friend who lives in the Chicago area and I could not believe the freezing temps you’ve had! The flames on the tracks really drives that cold fact home! Stay warm and safe!

  2. I was thinking of all you pooches living in the Chicago area – I just can’t even believe those well below zero temps! I’m glad you suited Buffy up well and kept potty walks really short.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  3. It was cold here but at least the polar vortex didn’t quite reach Maine. I still felt bad for dogs and people with dogs having to go for dogs to potty. I bet the stores can’t keep paw wax and coats in the shelves.

    • I didn’t see anyone else walk their dogs, just us. My “office” is on the heated front porch, so I can watch the neighborhood. Most people who own dogs around me don’t seem to walk them, even during weather – which is too bad for the dogs.

  4. I hate to think of all the dogs and cats who were outside all the time during the polar vortex. It wasn’t nearly as cold here, only -20 with the windchill, but my dogs only went out for a few minutes at a time. Buffy looked very cozy.

    My dog Theo loves to be under a blanket and will whine if I don’t tuck him when we sit on the sofa together.

  5. Wow! First of all – I can’t imagine temperatures so cold. I never thought about keeping dogs warm during the cold weather because when I was growing up, my dogs stayed outside in their dog houses. I think it’s wonderful there are sweaters and boots for dogs now.

  6. That is ridiculously cold! It got down to the single digits here and they canceled school for 2 days! We just aren’t equipped to handle that kind of weather here in the South. Glad you had your pup all nice and bundled up. Hopefully everyone else did too. I feel so bad for outdoor dogs this time of year especially. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. Stay warm!

    • I don’t know about any outdoor dogs in my area, but I have seen some outdoor cats. I wonder how they faired. I don’t see them often, so it’s not a surprise that I haven’t seen them yet.

  7. We never get snow here. OK once every 30 years or so but cold is cold no matter how cold so things like paw wax and coats for dogs are vital to keep them warm. It was only when I saw dogs with boots on at BlogPaws in Phoenix AZ I realised Summer out there could be dangerous!

    Love the new page, it looks tremendous. One thing I learned about adding previous posts was leaving off the picture looks tidier and people can read the titles more easily. Might not work for you but worth a try.

    • Thanks for the advice on my website. I’ll have to try it. My website was down and had to get remade – good thing I had a backup. But that was one thing that showed up funky.

  8. Love the guidance you give about trimming their paw fur – it’s so important. We did not realize how important it was until we let our pup’s fur grow just a bit longer than normal in-between groomings. Holy smokes, the snow stuck to their feet like magnets! Those little balloon booties are magic – love them!

  9. Wow, negative 20 degrees! I can’t imagine how cold that feels. We layer up with sweaters and coats, too, and my dogs do not seem to get too cold too fast if I keep us moving.

  10. Gets down to -40 here … so there are a few weeks where going out is dangerous just for breathing. So we do a lot of indoor agility during that time. There are a few courses in our city. For us it’s snowsuits. Coats don’t cover the belly of thigh muscles. And PAWZ for sure to keep the salt off.

    • Minus 40! What am I complaining about! When I had my springer and did agility, we used to go to an indoor course – except that it was in a barn – so unheated. But it was much better than being outside.

  11. Ruby won’t wear boots, unfortunately. She does like sweaters and you are right about them sometimes being better than coats.

    During the deep breeze, we played lots of indoor games and she used pee pads on Wednesday.

  12. We have rain and wind here so I am just letting Layla tell me when she needs to go out and how far she wants to go and it seems to be working.. She does wear a raincoat when we are out in the rain or a jacket if the wind is cold and blowing. I do not keep her out long unless she feels like walking then I let her just walk me LOL as far as she wants to go.

    Stay warm

  13. It’s been cold out where we are too – not as bad as some areas have been though. Last week we had a couple -30* days with the wind chill factor. Today it’s 20*f and it almost feels warm compared to how the weather was last week. So crazy. I’ve been bundling my pups up and taking them outside for potty breaks still. Luckily when it’s really cold they know to get their business done quickly so we can get back inside. Try to stay warm!

    • You’ve had it about as cold as we did and today it’s 40! No booties or coat, just a sweater for Buffy. Although with the melting snow leaving big puddles I think I need to put her booties back on.

  14. Great tips!! I’m in England and although it’s been chilly, it even snowed a little last night, it’s nowhere near as severe as many other parts of the world. Jack isn’t familiar with snow being from Florida and all, but he seemed to love walking in it today. When Red was with me she wore a sweater in the house for many months of the year, and outside I added a coat. When we were in Canada I used paw wax on her otherwise she refused to budge!

    • I used to use paw wax when I had a springer spaniel that I took cross country skiing. It worked a lot better than booties for her, but now I think there are better booties available.

  15. It’s great to see you all again! You have much colder temperatures where you are. We have 0º, but the wind chill is -20º. I only go out for a few minutes. Just enough time to take care of business, and quickly inspect the back yard for the Evil Squirrel Cartel, before zooming back inside. The weatherman says things will warm up for the weekend. Please say hello to your sweet Buffy who looks a lot like my esteemed, late associate angel Joey dog. Stay warm, pups!

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