3 min read

Dog Sitting 101: Is it Okay to Leave Dogs Outside in the Rain?


Written by Adam Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 02/03/2022, edited: 02/03/2022

For new dog sitters, the devil’s in the detail. Pups are notoriously mucky — they love to roll around in the mud and make a splash in the ocean. While many dogs love getting wet, they don't enjoy being stuck outside in the rain for long periods. For new dog sitters, it's important to know when you should bring your canine client in from the cold.

Is it okay to leave a dog outside in the rain?

No, it's not okay to leave a dog outside in the rain. While it's sometimes unavoidable for a dog to get wet in a sudden downpour, you shouldn't leave a dog outside in the rain for long. If the dog you're sitting gets soaked from the rain, ensure you dry them off properly when they come inside. 

The dog's breed can also make a difference. Some breeds, like Chihuahuas, originate from warm climates and have little to no fur. Therefore, they don't have much protection from the rain and will feel the effects quicker. Meanwhile, breeds like Labradors, descended from fishing dogs in Canada, tend to deal with the cold and rain better.

There's no hard and fast rule for how long a dog can be out in the rain. You'll want to consider the time of year and temperature outside. In the dead of winter, leaving a dog outside can be dangerous, especially during heavy rain and sub-zero temperatures. That said, a dog left outside for 15 minutes in a light summer rain will be fine.

brown and white terrier dog standing in the rain wearing pink rain boots

How do I stop my dog from getting wet in the rain?

Before taking on a new canine client, speak to the pet parents about what to do if they get wet. Some pet parents have waterproof doggy jackets for their fur-baby to wear to avoid getting wet when on a walk or playing outside. 

You should avoid putting a waterproof jacket on a dog without asking their pet parent first. Most dogs don't like wearing clothes, and trying to put a coat on an unwilling dog could end badly. 

If a dog spends a lot of time outside, there may be a shelter set up outside where they can get some respite from the rain. Remember: a travel crate is not considered an adequate shelter for a dog in the rain. Again, you should consider how long the dog has been outside, the temperature, and how heavy the rain is when a dog is in a shelter. 

If you're ever unsure of the best course of action, check with the pet parent in advance so that you can provide the best "pawssible" service.

Can dogs get sick from the rain?

Yes, dogs can get sick from being in the rain. The cold affects dogs in a similar way to humans. The cold and rain can cause the lining of a dog's lungs to become irritated and inflamed. If left outside for long enough, a dog could develop pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening illness. Dogs left out in the extreme cold could also develop hypothermia and frostbite

Consult a vet and contact the pet parent immediately if the dog you're sitting develops respiratory symptoms, including:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Lethargy
  • Runny nose 
  • Coughing

It's unwise to keep this information from a pet parent, as they will find out from their vet anyway and won't trust you with future dog sitting appointments.

person holding a blue leash standing beside golden dog in the rain

How to keep a dog entertained on a rainy day

Even in a torrential downpour, your canine client may want to play outside. Of course, a dog doesn't know what's best for their health, so you should find other ways of keeping them entertained indoors. 

If you've been given the go-ahead to give your canine client a few treats, you could keep them entertained with a puzzle toy. There are plenty of puzzle toys that can be made for next to nothing from items around the home and will keep Fido amused for hours. 

Dogs also get lots of stimulation from training. You can try to teach a dog a new trick or two; however, some dogs are more receptive than others. Their pet parents will be impressed if they come home and their fur-baby has mastered "sit" or "give paw". If the dog you're sitting isn't interested in training, don't force them to learn. 

As always, check with the pet parent before crafting puzzle toys or teaching tricks. Open dialogue is key to a successful sitting session.

On the hunt for some more pet sitting tips? Check out our guide on everything you need to know about pet sitting safety!

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