“He needs a coat!?” my client asked incredulously. “I thought only little dogs needed coats. He’s a big dog!”
“Yes, he is,” I explained, “He’s a big, macho dog who needs good warm winter wear.”
“Really?” she asked again.
“Really.” I assured her. “Even Vin Diesel puts on a parka when it’s cold.”
Dogs absolutely can need help staying warm in bitter weather. Here’s a list of the dogs who do:
- Young pups – puppies five months or younger probably need coats their first winter season.
- Tiny dogs – the smaller the dog the more winter protection they probably need.
- Old dogs – the older the dog the more winter warmth they will need.
- Thin dogs – especially sighthounds who are thin of body and thin of coat (fur). They need warm sweaters inside, extra blankies to curl up in and another layer when going outside. Just like really thin people may need more sweaters in the winter.
- Recovering dogs – when a body is fully engaged in healing it has fewer resources for other things like body temp regulation. So recovering dogs need to be coddled accordingly.
- Dogs with no “winter coat” of their own – thin fur on a dog is like wearing a tanktop only in the winter. Macho or not, you’d be cold! Dogs already toting around their own winter warmth don’t need any additional wardrobe from us.
- Dogs who act cold – if your dog stands hunched and bunched, lifting one paw then the other, tucking their tail and looking miserable then they ARE miserable. They need your help. My Pip has what is called a “double coat” of fur meaning she is an outer layer and an inner layer. She is winter sturdy most of the time, but when the temps drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, I put on her Ruffwear coat. (They aren’t cheap but they wear like iron.)
I hope this helps you understand what your dog may need to be comfortable and to spot the signs when they are cold.
Winter is a great time for dogs to be outside but, like us, they need to be dressed for the weather.