The short answer is generally NO. However, the long answer is not as clear cut as to whether dogs need a winter coat.
It is possible that your pup may need a little extra protection from the elements during the colder seasons? The answer to this question depends on several factors, including your dog’s breed. The age of your dog. The weather of your local environment and the amount of time spent outdoors.
Read on to help you determine whether you need winter coats for dogs.
The best way to decide if your dog needs a coat is to observe them. For example, my Collie is quite happy to go out in the garden, even on a cold winter day and doesn’t appear to feel the cold. On the other hand, my rescue is not keen on going out when it is cold and much rather snuggle under her blanket or sit in front of the radiator (or both). In this case, a winter coat helps.
During milder winters, your dog is not likely to need extra protection; however, once the temperature falls below freezing, it will depend on if and when you take your dog out for a walk, especially since conditions tend to improve mid-morning/afternoon. Not all dogs are the same, though, and that is why it is worth monitoring their reaction.
Short Haired Dogs
Breeds of dogs that have particular short hair are likely to need extra weather protection in the winter. Shorter fur cannot keep away the cold and moisture of snow and other winter weather, which will make the, feel the cold faster. A thick sweater or jacket will ensure your pooch stays comfortable for the duration of outdoor time. Generally, short-haired dogs require winter coats,
Tiny dogs don’t fare the colder weather as well as larger breeds. And for the truly tiny, being so deep in snow can make the outdoors unbearable. Jackets are necessities for our littlest four-legged friends when romping about outside, but they may even require a sweater indoors if your home is draughty or you’re trying to keep the heat low inside.
Old and Ailing Pets can benefit from winter coats.
When dogs get on the years or suffer from certain health conditions, they will likely benefit from the additional warmth that a jacket or sweater provides. Older animals are less able to regulate and retain body temperature, which means extreme temperatures can make them very uncomfortable quickly. Animals with health conditions and illnesses have the same issue, especially dogs suffering from arthritis. Keeping them warm when outdoors will help with bone and joint discomfort and help keep them dry in wet weather, which could make health deteriorate even further.
Talk to your vet about if your dog needs a winter coat.
In general terms, Vets advise that dogs under 10 pounds should be given some clothing as their size means low levels of body fat which isn’t enough to produce adequate heat to keep them warm.
Short-haired breeds such as Chihuahuas and French bulldogs are also likely to be in the same position. Short-legged breeds are also more prone to the effects of falling temperatures. Dogs like the Dachshund will react more harshly to the cold because their bellies are closer to the ground and will encounter snow and ice repeatedly.
Dogs that have vulnerable immune systems because of illness – kidney disease, diabetes, hormonal imbalances – will appreciate a helping hand from an added layer of clothing to guard against further illness such as hypothermia.
Like the Siberian husky, big dogs with lots of hair, Alaskan Malamute or German Shepherd are unlikely to need a jacket since they are built to deal with such temperatures. In contrast, other large canines like the Greyhound may not be too fond of going out in the cold as they have thin fur and not a high percentage of body fat.
How to put a winter coat on a dog
Once you’ve decided that a jacket is right for your dog, don’t just throw one onto them. Start with a light jacket, as it is important to ensure your dog doesn’t overheat or come to rely on a thick coat they do not need.
You should also check that the style you choose does not restrict your dog’s movement and that they can move around freely. Try to opt for designs that have the added benefit of being waterproof, especially with our British weather!
Try the jacket on your dog and observe their reaction. Also, try not to put the layer on until you are about to go outside and remember to remove it as soon as you return.. here is an article to help you get your dog used to winter jackets.
You may also want to get your dog to try on dog boots/booties for added protection. They are great for providing paws with resistance against the cold ground, which some areas may have been sprayed with toxic chemicals such as antifreeze.
Other benefits of winter coats for dogs
As long as your dog does not overheat in a winter coat, then I would also consider a jacket for your dog as it offers other benefits such as:
- A jumper or a coat can help keep your dog clean and so help keep your home clean
- help keep them warm
- Small dogs can benefit from a coat that will offer both protection and insulation.
- If you have an older dog with arthritis, then they will benefit from the warm jacket that can provide
Below are some winter-related articles by Derek Chambers of Finchley dog walker