When winter weather sets in, walking the dog turns into a whole new ballgame. You don’t leave the house without grabbing your warmest coat, pulling on your gloves, and wrapping a scarf around your neck. It’s the only way to make those trips outside bearable, but what about your dog? Your pup already has a built-in fur coat (unless you have a hairless breed). But if dogs don’t need extra warmth, why are there so many cute fleece dog coats at the pet store? Deciding if your dog needs to wear a coat in cold weather is part of your job as a pup parent.
Even with their fur, there are several cases where a dog coat would be in your pet’s best interest. If your dog falls into any of these categories, they need extra help staying warm in winter weather.
Toy, Miniature, and Small Dog Breeds
Extra small dogs like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, French Bulldogs, and Miniature Pinschers have trouble generating enough body heat to keep them warm in cold weather. This is especially true for small dog breeds with short hair. It also doesn’t help that these little dogs are closer to the cold ground. A few inches of snow can look like a blizzard when you’re only a foot tall.
Dogs with long bodies and short legs have a similar problem with cold weather as their small dog friends. The average Basset Hound weighs 55 pounds, but their short legs put their bellies low to the ground. Even low riding dogs with thick fur, like the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, are vulnerable to winter weather. Snow and ice can brush up against their sensitive tummies, and having the bulk of their body close to freezing ground can make it hard to keep themselves warm.
Lean-Bodied Dogs With Short Fur
It’s easy to look at an Alaskan Malamute and know it was built to withstand cold weather. But the opposite is true for certain dogs with lean bodies and short fur. The Italian Greyhound, for example, doesn’t have a Malamute’s fur or bulk to keep warm. These types of dogs could use a fleece dog coat if they’re spending extended amounts of time outside in cold weather. Other breeds like this are Whippets, Boston Terriers, Boxers, German Shorthaired Pointers, and several more.
Older dogs often have trouble with cold weather. Winter can exacerbate age-related health conditions like arthritis. Senior dogs can also have weakened immune systems and poor heat regulation. Even if your thick-coated senior dog never needed a fleece dog coat in his youth, old age might change things.
Dogs in a New Climate
If you recently moved from a warm climate to a cold one (like me!), your dog won’t be used to winter weather. The stinging cold of freezing temperatures will be a shock to their system. You don’t need to worry about this if you have a dog that’s naturally built for the cold, like a Husky or American Eskimo dog, but some other breeds might need help at least until their bodies have a chance to acclimate to the new weather.
Dogs With Clipped Fur
If you recently clipped your dog’s long fur, their natural heat regulation abilities are probably all out of whack. They need their long fur to keep them warm, and without it, a dog coat might be necessary. Poodles are a good example of this. When their fur is long, it serves as good insulation in the winter. But when it’s clipped short, they’re left vulnerable to cold weather.
If your dog falls into any of these categories, you can finally give in to temptation and buy that cute fleece dog coat you’ve been eyeing up. Remember, not all dogs need extra warmth in the winter. You don’t want them to overheat and be uncomfortable. But if you think your pup is cold, look for a dog coat that protects the neck, belly, and goes all way to the base of their tail. A waterproof coat will also help if there’s snow or ice.