In the northern hemisphere the seasons are starting to change, with the first day of fall just passing us by. Soon, winter will follow it and for some places it will drop below freezing. When it comes to the colder month’s humans don’t think twice about putting on several layers before braving the icy chill in the air, so why do we scoff at people who decide to do the same for their dogs?
Some people still hang on to the stereotype that people who dress their dogs in coats and sweaters are overindulging their pets. However, when owners notice their dogs shivering when the heating isn’t on in the house or when they’re out on their daily walk, they worry about their wellbeing. After all, if we are cold then what is the likelihood that our pets are too?
Do all dogs need to wear coats?
While dogs do come equipped with an external layering system to keep them warm, there are some dogs that are better off than others. Take huskies and Alaskan malamutes for example, which have incredibly thick fur after being bred to survive to colder months when pulling sleds. However, those that are short-haired, are very young or old, and have medical conditions may benefits from the warmth that a cozy sweater can offer.
Each dog should be assessed on their breed, size and age when considering if they need a coat. It is also important to remember that even dogs with thick fur may need a little help due to the lack of fur under their bellies. When it comes to long-haired dogs wearing coats owners must be careful that they don’t overheat or look uncomfortable, so always keep an eye on them.
If your beloved pooch suffers from an illness such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease, which can weaken their immune systems, make sure you keep them warm in the winter. Illnesses like these can often impair hair growth, leaving them prone to the elements.
What kind of coat does my dog need?
When it comes to choosing the right coat for your dog there are a lot of things to take into account. There are a variety of materials they come in such as wool and fleece, which are the most popular, but there are also water-resistant fabrics. These can come in handy if you like to brave the rain and snow with your dog, making sure they stay dry in these conditions. Sometimes the coats can have wool on the inside as an insulator and be water resistant on the outside, but make sure that your dog isn’t allergic to any of the materials. A mixture of wool with cotton or acrylic can be the best option for most dogs.
The sizing of sweaters tends to come in the following options; small, medium, large and extra-large to accommodate most breeds, and it is important to choose the correct size. One that is too tight will make it uncomfortable for your dog to move and could cause chafing under the arms, whereas one that is too big won’t provide adequate protection from the weather. The best way to make sure you get it right is to measure your dog around the neck, the largest part of their chest and from their neck to their waist. If you can, bring your dog along to the pet store and try a couple on in store before making a purchase.
In the case of sweaters, the simpler they are the better. Anything that will rub against your dog such as zippers, buttons and tags should be avoided, especially if they are easy to reach for your dog to chew off. However, a great addition to a sweater can be high-visibility stripes that allow your dog to be seen when it is dark out, which is perfect in the winter months when the sun rises later and sets earlier than normal.
Bonus Tip: Be careful of their feet!
Protecting their bodies from the cold is great, but you can go one step further and protect the pads on their feet from the cold too. Humans don’t realize how cold the ground outside can get during the winter months, especially when there is snow as well. Dogs that have furry feet can collect snow and ice between the pads which can be very uncomfortable.
If you are one of the people that want to make sure their feet stay intact, then make sure that the boots you buy are comfortable and won’t rub against the dog’s paws. Another reason to buy boots for your dog is that the surfaces in winter are often covered with antifreeze and salt that can be toxic, especially if the dog licks their paw after a walk.
It may take a while for your dog to get used to them, but in the mean time you can enjoy watching them hop around before it doesn’t feel strange anymore. However, if they really can’t stand wearing them, you can always bathe their paws in warm water for a few seconds once the walk is over and dry them thoroughly.
Wrap up warm together!
While dogs won’t care what style or color you dress them in, you can have a little fun if you want to and match them to your coat. Sure, some people will look and stare, but does it really matter if you’re both comfortable and warm? Life is for living and we can guarantee they will love all the fuss you give them during and after their walk.