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Should I Make My Dog Go Outside In The Rain? 🐾 Little Dog Tips

Matilda wearing a Voyagers rain coat and Cow is wearing a Ruffwear Sun Shower.

Summer rains have made walking my dogs a challenge.

It seems like at least once a week, we get a full day of flash floods.

Torrential rains get us soaked within seconds, and I don’t blame my dogs for not wanting to go outside.

And once I get out there, it’s a whole other challenge getting them to actually get their business done.

While Matilda understands that if she pees quickly, she can go right back inside.

But the heavy rains seem to leave Cow confused. She’ll stop and squat as though she’s about to pee, but then change her mind. It’s so frustrating!

Fortunately, as apartment-dwellers for the past few years, we’ve found ways to make it work.

When To Wait Out The Rainstorm

On rainy days, keep an eye on the hourly forecast.

You might be able to shift your dog’s walk schedule to avoid the worst of the rainy weather.

On rainy days, the peak of a storm might take place around dinnertime. So, I might shift my dog’s dinner about a half-hour later. That way, by the time we go out for our after-dinner walk, the sun is already shining again.

Sometimes running out into a light rain a bit earlier than planned can help you avoid the worst of the weather.

You can check your region’s hourly forecast on your phone’s weather app or by searching your zipcode + hourly weather.

You’ll come to LOVE the alerts that say, “rain stopping in ten minutes.” If your pup can hang in there for just a little while longer, they won’t need to go out to walk in the rain at all.

Do Dogs Need Raincoats?

It’s difficult to keep a dog dry with just an umbrella, especially when it’s raining sideways.

While it can seem like a hassle to put your dog in a raincoat before going out, it really does help most of their body stay dry.

A dog raincoat with tummy coverage can help reduce splash-back from the ground, but those can be harder to find and tougher to fit.

A raincoat with a hood can help keep your dog’s ears and neck dry, though many dogs hate wearing anything on their head.

While more coverage is better when it comes to keeping your dog try, even a jacket that only covers their back can be surprisingly effective.

Your dog’s raincoat should be thin and water-resistant. No need to get fancy, and no need to layer up.

For something simple, you can’t go wrong with foldable raincoats that store in their own pocket. So convenient!

Using your dog’s winter coat could not only make them overheat, especially during summer rains, but the soft insulating layers could get wet and retain moisture close to your dog’s body. Talk about uncomfortable!

Can Dogs Get Sick From Being Out In The Rain?

Even if your dog doesn’t mind walks in the rain, it’s usually best to limit their time outside to no more than fifteen minutes.

The rain itself cannot make your dog sick, nor the cold. However, staying cold and wet for prolonged periods of time can affect your dog’s immune system.

But the more prevalent issue is that moisture creates an environment in which yeast and bacteria can flourish.

Dogs that are prone to ear infections – most common in those with floppy ears – and yeast-prone, itchy skin may be more likely to experience a flare-up after spending time in the rain without promptly drying off once inside.

When you get in from the rain, make sure to dry your dog from head to tail, paying special attention to their ears, armpits, inner thighs, and between their toes, all areas where bacteria and yeast can fester. If your dog has wrinkles and rolls, make sure to get into those crevices too.

Are Thunderstorms Dangerous for Dogs?

Thunder and lightning only make your dog’s walk absolutely terrifying, but can also put you and your pup at risk.

Lightning can strike anywhere, though it does tend to strike the tallest object available. Wide open spaces are known to be dangerous, though so are areas full of trees. If lightning strikes a tree, the current can actually travel along the ground. If you and your dog are within 60 feet of where lightning strikes, the ground current can be lethal.

You can only hear thunder up to ten miles away – which means if you can hear it, you’re potentially in its path. Since thunderstorms only last around 30 to 45 minutes, there’s no need to put yourself and your dog at risk.

Are There Alternatives To Walking My Dog in The Rain?

It’s generally safe to walk your dog in the rain, and should not make them sick as long as they’re fully dried once indoors.

But if you can avoid it, why not?

If you live in an apartment, consider setting up a dog potty area under a covered patio.

You can use a fake grass potty, which is easy to bring out anytime your dog needs it, then store when not in use.

Some dogs won’t use the fake grass, but will use a Fresh Patch (check price on Amazon) or Bark Potty (check price on Amazon).

If you have a yard, you can set up a covered dog run or canopy so your dog has a rain-free potty zone.

You can also have your dog use potty pads during rainstorms. Puppy pads are fine for adult dogs, and most will still prefer to go outside to do their business as long as they’re taken outside often enough.

As for Matilda, we have a fake grass potty indoors that she can use whenever she wants. But she only actually uses it a few times per year, when the weather is especially frightful.

Should I Let My Dog Tough It Out?

Sometimes you have no choice but to let your dog out in the rain.

Most breeds have a double coat that consists of water-resistant guard hairs and a fluffy, insulating undercoat.

A quick run out into the rain might not even get through their guard hairs – you may only need to pat them dry when they come inside.

Some dogs catch on that the quicker they do their business, the sooner they can go inside and get dry.

As for Cow, the worse the rain, the longer she takes to pee and poop.

The rain may wash away all the familiar scents, so she may be confused and frightened. When she squats, the wet grass may feel awful on her belly and hindquarters.

Dogs may be animals, but they’re also our babies.

Taking your dog for a walk in the rain can be unpleasant. But the fact that you’re there, getting soaked along with them, is what matters the most.

And until they make indoor toilets for our dogs, we’ll have to weather this weather together.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You’ll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.

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