Keeping your dog warm, safe and dry in all kinds of weather.
There’s a lot of debate in the world of dogs when it comes to whether or not they should wear a sweater in winter. However, in the end, it’s really up to how dogs handle the cold. The important thing is your dogs should be comfortable no matter what the temperature is.
Whether or not your dog needs a coat in winter is going to depend on many factors, including:
- Age: Very young animals and senior dogs tend to get cold faster and have a harder time regulating their internal temperature.
- Health: Certain diseases can contribute to your pet’s ability to stay warm. For example, dogs with Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism are often not able to retain body heat as well as others.
- Coat: Your dog’s fur length and type have fewer defenses against frigid weather. A short-coated Pit Bull or Weimaraner is going to be colder much faster than a large thick-coated husky or malamute.
- Breed: Obviously smaller breeds (Chihuahua or Yorkie) and lightweight breeds (Greyhound or Whippet) are going to have a much more difficult time in cold weather than larger dogs, like Aussies or Shepherds.
- Weather: This should be the main factor, when selecting a coat for your dog. Those in the Southwest should plan on picking up lighter weight sweaters or wind coats, and those up north will need a much warmer type of coat.
If your dog tends to be colder than others are, you might want to consider both a sweater and a coat. Smaller, lightweight breeds or those with very thin or short coats will definitely benefit from a sweater or jacket—even if they’re indoors most of the time.
All Day Wear
My thin-coated pit/pointer mixes need a light sweater all year round—despite living in the Southwestern deserts I’ve become an expert on the most comfortable “all day” wear for large dogs.
If your dogs are as spoiled as mine, and tend to get cold easily, you definitely need to check out the new Stretch Fleece from Goldpaw. Made from recycled polyester and 7 percent spandex, this ultra-comfy fleece is very stretchy and super comfortable. I love it because my dogs usually don’t fit the typical sizing chart, however, this coat fits both like a dream. It’s a great sweater to keep your shorthaired dogs cozy all day long.
However, if you head outside, you’ll want to add on a warmer sweater. My preferred sweaters are those from UpCountry: These hand-knit sweaters provide extra warmth on cool days and can be layered under heavier parkas during chilly winters.
The Grey Parka Hoodie from Chilly Dog Sweaters is another great choice. Since these sweaters are all handmade following Fair Trade guidelines, they may vary slightly in color and style.
In The Rain
UpCountry’s Nantucket Rain Slickers are another favorite for those windy, rainy days outdoors. Classic hoods provide extra protection to ears from the rain and the velcro closures make dressing simple. The outer fabric is made from 100% polyurethane and the interior lining is a warm 70 percent cotton/30 percent polyester.
If your dog is spending his winter days curled tightly into a ball, it’s time to accept he needs a jacket for lounging around the house. Some dogs are naturally more susceptible to the cold. Your husky probably won’t need one, but it’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s behavior to identify when additional insulation might be needed.
For the Ultimate Snow Dogs
You’ll want these coats if you live in the Montana mountainside or plan to head to upstate New York. To find the ultimate cold-weather coat, you need to start looking in the coldest regions of the world. These are my favorites from Ruffwear in Montana, Chilly Dogs in Canada, and Hurtta in Finland.
If you’re in an area where the temperature changes suddenly, you need to think in terms of layers. That’s where the new coats from Ruffwear come in. Start out with the Ruffwear Climate Changer, which is made from recycled fleece fabric, and is perfect for those crisp, clear days with a chill in the air. In addition, it you can use it to create an extra layer of warmth to any heavy-duty coat.
The Ruffwear Quinzee™ is a very warm, weather-resistant and packable jacket, which uses synthetic insulation to provide warmth in extreme cold or inclement weather. The jacket packs down into its integrated stuff sack for storage and the autolock buckles on each side not only keep the jacket secure, they make sure no ice or snow will embed in the locks.
Also from Ruffwear is the Powder Hound™. This hybrid jacket offers the warmth of synthetic insulation with the range of motion of technical stretch fabric. Not only is it incredibly warm, it’s weatherresistant and a packable insulated jacket is ideal for cold-weather activities.
Another great cold-weather coat is the Great White North Winter Dog Jacket by Chilly Dogs. This coat features 12-ounces of non-pilling fleece with a polyurethane coated outer-shell, which makes it waterproof, windproof, and breathable. It’s extremely warm and designed for incredibly cold Canadian winters.
The Hurtta Summit Parka is designed to complement a dog’s natural ability to insulate. The jacket has a wider chest and belly area than most coats, and folds around your pet almost like a sleeping bag. Since it was developed in Finland, you can bet that it’s developed for some of the coldest days in existance. The Hurtta Summit Parka dog jacket is designed to protect your dog’s most important muscle groups, chest and stomach area. It has a water-resistant and breathable Houndtex® coating (similar to Gore-Tex), as well as high-visibility 3M reflectors.
Don’t Forget Boots
While you’re looking at warm coats for your dogs, don’t forget to keep their paws protected as well. Areas where there is ice or snow usually means areas with chemicals and salts that can damage paws. Ruffwear has an extensive line of boots that works great in the dead of winter or out on hot asphalt in summer. Muttluks is always a great choice in boots that won’t come off; and Kurgo just released a fun set of Step & Strobe dog boots (shown) that light up when your dog walks (which makes finding him in the backyard during cold winter nights that much easier.).
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is a fulltime freelance writer, bestselling author and founder of PetsWeekly.com. She resides in the deserts of the Southwest with a few dogs, several cats and a very understanding husband.