Why do I need a dog coat?

It’s often thought that people buy coats and  jumpers for their dogs so as to dress them up like they would a child, is this true or is it necessary to buy a dog jumper or a dog coat for your best friend?

Walking your dog in winter

Should they wear a coat? The short answer is “Yes if it’s cold!” Dogs get cold too and they lose heat very quickly if they stop moving.  Some dogs though need a coat more than others. 

Dogs with an undercoat

Some dogs are prepared for cold weather, they have an undercoat of fur, this is the very soft fine fur that is often under a thicker and more robust layer of fur (Labradors, Collies, German Shepherds..) However, some dogs do not have this insulating coat (Chihuahuas, Dachsunds, Poodles, Schnauzers, many Terriers, greyhounds…).  Dogs without this extra layer will lose body heat very quickly in winter, and they should have a coat or jumper. Again, when they are not moving they will lose a lot of body heat. 

Dogs who have an undercoat are more equipped for Winter, however if they are on a lead and restricted from moving quickly they too will start to get cold, if this is a regular pattern on walks, they will also need a coat. 

If the weather is very cold, all dogs need a coat when walking slowly on a lead. 

A coat or a jumper?

For walking in rain and longer walks we recommend a water-repellant dog coat. There are many to choose from to fit the purpose. For an afternoon with you while you go shopping, maybe a dog jumper, as they need to be kept warm and will not be moving very fast, but if you are in and out of buildings a jumper will be more practical.  If the temperature of the house you are in is a little cooler, and your dog is a single-coated dog, they may benefit from a jumper in that situation too. Be careful though as dogs can overheat too, be wise when judging a cold room, if your dog is panting, take off the jumper immediately. 

My dog ‘freezes’ when I put on his coat or jumper

Dogs need to get used to clothes, it feels unnatural at first but at the same time, it’s not natural for a dog to be kept on a lead either (restricting their ability to run and keep warm). Our advice is to put the coat or jumper on before you do something exciting, like the walk. Give them a treat so that they associate the clothing as something good, and then go and have fun, as soon as the lead comes out or the shoes go on, they would have forgotten about the coat, if not immediately certainly after you get going. 

Dog boots!

These items may look ridiculous but when it’s icy outside and when the roads have been sprayed with grit and salt, these boots will stop the harm to their paws.  Alternatively do not take your dog out on gritted or salted roads.

Dog scarfs

Scarfs or cowls are useful for dogs who feel the cold and have no undercoat and just add a light warm layer around their neck.

Overheating

Watch your dog carefully for signs of being cold (shivering) and overheating (panting). Jumpers and coats should be taken off when indoors in an adequately heated room. Likewise if your dog is running and very active and the temperature outside is not freezing, question if you need a dog coat or a jumper. 

Dog jumpers Dog coats

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