January 6, 2022
Winter’s chill is here and, as we dig to the back of our closets and coat racks for parkas and seasonal outerwear, we wonder—do dogs need coats in the winter, too? Canine couture is popular, so whether your dog roams in a sweater, hoodie, or goes au naturel when mother nature bites at the thermometer, we’ve got the facts —and the fiction—on what your pooch really needs, courtesy of Dogster magazine.
1. Fiction: All dogs need to wear dog coats to protect them from the cold.
Fact: Not all dogs need a coat or a sweater to keep them warm when venturing outside, but shorter-haired breeds, senior dogs, puppies, and dogs with medical conditions do benefit from the additional warmth. Seek pet apparel that adequately covers the neck and belly, and also allows for neck-to-tail protection.
2. Fiction: All dogs can become accustomed to wearing a coat.
Fact: Some dogs are uncomfortable wearing apparel and should never be forced to do so. While many dogs benefit from the additional layering in colder temperatures, try letting your dog wear the coat in the house for minutes at a time. If he or she is not responsive—or does the famous “freeze in place” pose — scratch the idea and move on.
3. Fiction: Larger dogs do not need to wear winter coats or sweaters.
Fact: Some dogs have been bred with a thicker or a more dense coat, including the Iditarod-savvy Siberian Husky. But other bigger breeds might benefit from a coat, so assess each individual dog. Greyhounds are more sensitive to the colder weather, for example.
4. Fiction: If it looks like a sweater and acts like a sweater, it will keep my dog warm.
Fact: This is so not true. Waterproof clothes help a dog with thicker hair, such as a Cocker Spaniel, to stay dry on winter snow-covered-sidewalk jaunts. In addition, waterproof apparel keeps him dry from dew-coated bushes and grass at the park. Much like my own winter coat does for me, a polar-fleece lining gives dogs comfort while protecting against colder temperatures.
5. Fiction: A dog’s coat should be snug to keep him or her as warm as possible.
Fact: Consider your dog’s mobility. Just as you need to move in a coat, so does your dog. Snug but not tight is a good rule. Make sure there are no additional hanging zippers, snaps, or parts that can rub or irritate a dog. Also ensure that it doesn’t interfere with his “man parts.” Pay attention to where any Velcro straps or fasteners lay against a dog’s coat. Being able to try clothing on at the store helps a great deal.
6. Fiction: A dog’s pads are resilient and will protect him or her from nature’s elements.
Fact: Chemicals can be absorbed through a dog’s sensitive pads. In turn, those chemicals (such as what’s found in antifreeze) can be licked by dogs and cause severe problems. Some people opt for dog booties, which is a smart idea in the winter months. Wash dog pads off thoroughly after a walk, perhaps using some warm water and a washcloth to melt any ice balls that may have formed on the bottoms.
7. Fiction: Coats and hoodies must look heavy to adequately protect dogs.
Fact: Technology has evolved in the human-outerwear market, and the same holds true with our canine counterparts. Thin is the new thick in outerwear. Check labels and do research before making an investment. Heavier does not mean better; in fact, if a coat is too warm, dogs can overheat, so use caution.
Should you measure your dog for a coat?
If you order a personalized jacket or sweater, keep in mind that many stores will not allow coats to be returned. So, measure your dog adequately before making any parka purchases.
Here’s how: With the dog standing up, run a tape measure from the base of the dog’s neck (where the collar would sit) and to the base of the tail. The majority of dog clothes use this measurement. Knowing your dog’s chest measurement will ensure a good fit, too.
Research contact: @dogster