Are My Dogs Going to Be Okay in the Rain?

Your dog is probably not a Victorian novel character who goes out in the rain and comes back with a life-threatening fever. However, are there any risks to your dog being allowed out in the rain? Will they get sick?

These are all valid concerns, and the answer may not be completely straightforward.

 a wet dog in the rain

Dogs and Rain: The Basics

Though we may love them as family, dogs are not people. Most dogs do not mind getting a bit wet, and probably won’t come running in during a light sprinkling.

That being said, even if you have outdoor dogs, dogs should never be locked outside during rainy weather with no access to safe, dry shelter. This can be very distressing for them and can even result in dangerous conditions such as hypothermia.

Always make sure your dogs are either safely locked inside, can get inside if they need to, or have access to a warm and dry hiding spot that is not going to flood or become damp. 

Can I Walk My Dog in The Rain?

Let's face it, in some areas it may rain for days on end, and you can’t just completely deprive your pup of exercise until it dries up. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with taking your dog for a walk in rainy weather, but there are some ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ dog owners must take into consideration first.

The State of Your Dog

Bad weather will not magically make your dog sick. However, some dogs are just more sensitive to cold and wet weather, and it can easily worsen existing health conditions if you’re not careful.

If your dog is old, pregnant, has a compromised immune system, or is suffering from other health conditions, then rainy-day walks may not be for you. Older dogs can slip on wet roads and compromised ones can come into contact with bacteria-infested puddles that can make them ill.

a dog in a rain coatSparkpaws Catalog

Your dog’s Breed

Some breeds, such as huskies and Samoyeds, have longer coats that keep them safer from cooler temperatures, while short-haired breeds, such as bulldogs, are more likely to get uncomfortable quickly and need more protection.

On the other hand, if it's very wet, long-haired breeds may get soaked through or dirty, and have a hard time drying off, making them more susceptible to infections.

Small dogs, such as Yorkies or Chihuahuas, may also be close to the wet road, have a harder time regulating temperature, and have a harder time navigating puddles.

Check Weather Conditions

Thunder and lightning can easily spook a dog and cause them to bolt, even if the storm is some distance away. You must always make sure that you aren’t about to walk into stormy conditions, even if you left home in only a light drizzle.

Pet owners also do well to check that the current temperature is safe for their breed of dog. Always make sure that they are dressed well for cold weather. If you are walking a mixed pack, take the time to make sure that it's good for everyone. Hot, humid weather can also make it difficult for a dog to cool down.

At an average for most dogs, 55 - 70 degrees (12 - 21 degrees Celsius) is an acceptable minimum temperature (discounting very small and very short-haired breeds), but lower than that and you will have to make sure that is dressed suitably for the weather.[1]

Toxic and Poisonous Hazards

Poison may seem like an odd thing to worry about, but rainy conditions can bring about things you may not normally have to deal with.

Pollution - Rain washes pollution, pesticides, anti-freeze, and chemical fertilizers off of lawns and roadways, allowing toxins to collect in puddles along the road. An excited dog may go to drink or splash in these puddles. They could then either drink the toxins directly or lick them off of wet paws.

Mushrooms - Wet weather can cause mushroom blooms. While not all mushrooms are toxic, there are a number of poisonous varieties that your dog can eat by accident. Keep your dog away from mushrooms, and beware of symptoms such as upset stomachs, tremors, seizures, or lethargy, as it can lead to death if untreated.

Toads - Most toads are toxic to some extent, but they usually aren’t enough to poison a dog. However, some toads in the Bufo family (Cane toads, Colorado River toads, etc.) excrete toxins when threatened and can easily poison a dog to a life-threatening degree. Always call a vet if you suspect toad poisoning.[2]

Toad poisoning symptoms include drooling, vomiting, cyanosis, lethargy, and convulsions.

a dog in a rain jacketSparkpaws Catalog

Other Hazards

A rainy walk normally means puddles, and besides chemical components, puddles can also contain dangerous bacteria, plasmodia, and parasites, especially if left stagnant for some time.

While the rain itself won’t make your dog sick, long exposure to cold, wet conditions can cause inflammation in the lungs. This inflammation can also make your dog more susceptible to chest infections, such as pneumonia.


Some dogs just plain hate going in the rain. Whether it's getting wet, or just nervousness about a strange new environment, if the dog refuses then it may be best to just call it a day instead of forcing them.

While exercise is important, there's no need to create unnecessary stress for you and your furry friends, especially if the rain is not going to last too long. You can always supplement them with some fun indoor activities such as tug of war.

Minimizing the risks

Rainy weather is a no-go for sick or vulnerable dogs, but there are some things you can do to help healthy dogs stay safe and dry.

#1 Check Conditions Beforehand

As mentioned, make sure that temperatures are comfortable for both of you and that you aren’t about to find yourself walking into a storm or cloudburst.

#2 Go for High Vis 

Visibility is also lowered during rainy weather, so make sure that your dog is wearing a brightly colored coat or harness in case you come across any traffic. A car will spot you before your dog, so making sure that your dog is easily seen will do a lot to help keep you both safe.

a dog in a rain coatSparkpaws Catalog

#3 Make Sure Your Dog’s Vaccinations Are Up To Date

Pet parents will do well to make sure that their dog, especially if they’re still a puppy, have all the vaccinations for common canine illnesses. Canine companions in the rain may be more susceptible to coming across dangerous viruses like Parvo.

#4 Stay Dry

Investing in a good, high-quality dog raincoat may be a good plan. A raincoat will help keep your dog dry, warm, and comfortable. You could also go for some shoes to protect them from licking toxins off their paws.

When you get home, it's also recommended to dry them off completely with an old towel or hair dryer.


Walking in the rain is not dangerous in itself, but it could expose your dog to harmful situations.

You can negate these by taking the time to be extra cautious, making sure your dog is comfortable, and staying as dry as possible. A number of vets also recommend investing in warm coats and raincoats for dogs if it's needed.[3]

If you would like to see Sparkpaws' collection of high-quality raincoats, check it out here.

Happy Walking!

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