Winter is coming 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?
Dog fashion has become very popular, with a variety of clothing options from dog sweaters, hoodies or coats it's all out there. From subtle to garish there is a style for everyone's dog. But do they really need it??
Does it help practically or is it style over substance.
Do dogs even get cold in the winter?
Dogs get cold just like people do. But some dogs, like Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies, were bred for cold climates. Others, like St Bernards Newfoundlands or Chow Chows, are so large and furry that the cold doesn’t affect them much. Then again, if you have a Chihuahua, Italian greyhound or Chinese Crested, they probably get cold when you open the freezer nor lone going outside. No matter what their breed, dogs who are accustomed to warm weather may experience cold more strongly.
Is it okay to put a coat on a dog?
Yes, putting a coat on a dog is fine, if they feel the cold it's the kind thing to do. Dogs generally don’t need to be wearing coats in mild weather, while indoors, or just for fun.
If your dog is clearly opposed to wearing a coat (for example, shows signs of anxiety or repeatedly tries to take it off, wont move in it), then you're probably better to modify their routine to minimise their exposure to cold weather.
When is it cold for dogs?
Obviously it's different for every dog and that's some for the same breed and type but below is a general guide.
- Below 10⁰C - some small to medium-size dogs might need to be walked in a jumper or coat dependant on the length of their fur, activity levels and how long they'll be outside
- Below 5⁰C - certain larger dog breeds can begin to become affected by the cold weather and may need to wear a coat. Pay close attention to their fur length, time spent outside and behaviour when in the cold
- Minus 5⁰C or less - Although you know your dog best, please be wary when walking any breed or size of dog in such low temperatures as this can cause frostbite and paw injuries
What breeds are susceptible to cold?
Small and short coated dog breeds
- Jack Russels
- Basset Hounds
- Yorkshire Terriers
- French bulldogs
Large and short coated dog breeds
- Doberman Pinschers
All these breeds are more susceptible to the cold however, any dog will get cold if left in the cold or wet for too long.
Why else might my dog need a coat?
Aside from the temperature outside and size of your dog, there are many other complications and conditions that mean your dog will need to wrap up such as age, health and weight. Older dogs are possibly at risk in colder conditions because their joints are stiffer and their immune system weakened.
To help, try a warm coat and thoroughly dry them when you return from walks.
Dogs with underlying health conditions such as hypothyroidism and arthritis may have difficulties in the cold.The cold can have a dramatic effect on the behaviour of a dog with underlying health conditions and contribute to behaviours being displayed that we don't like.
This is where we can caveat dogs not wearing a coat inside as for dogs that have joint or muscular it can certainly help them
4 tips on your dogs wearing coats
Be mindful of heat-generating activities
Another consideration is the dog’s activity level. If your dog is going to run around at the park, the coat will retain their extra body heat, making them even warmer. If it’s cold out, but your dog is being extremely active, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get too hot.What are the features of a good coat?
A good dog coat will cover your dog’s neck, belly, and back. Waterproof fabrics are important, because a wet dog will get colder much faster than a dry one. The dog coat shouldn’t really have parts that can be chewed off and swallowed, so look for one that doesn’t have a zip, buttons, or tags that's ideal or if they are positioned out of the way
Does it fit properly?
The fitting of the coat will be really important. Dogs need to be able to move freely so it's no good having a coat that is skin tight. It may not be comfortable, moving fur in an odd direction causing pain and restricting their movement. It also makes it extremely difficult to put on and off for you and your dog. Which won't be a comfortable and become a chore which could result in your dog being afraid of wearing it
Equally too big is no good. It wont keep them properly warm and will move around while they wear it. This can lead to paws getting trapped which can lead to injuries being had.
Give your dog’s outfit a once-over
After putting on your dog’s jacket or coat, take a look at them from a few different angles to make sure everything’s secured. Check that zips are fully closed and not pinching, and velcro is securely fastened. Any unsecured flaps or buckles that are swinging or flapping around could irritate your dog’s skin, or just distract them from their walk.
You will always get the folk out there that will snigger at you for putting a coat on your dog. Would they find it enjoyable if they couldn't take their coat on a walk? I'm guessing no!!
Making sure your best mate is warm enough to be able to enjoy the best part of their day is no crime. You will be able to take more pleasure from seeing them enjoy it more than listening to the few that will judge.
Below is my dog Myra in her RuffWear coat