• Christin

Do dogs need to wear coats?

So, do they, or is it just playing silly dress up to put coats on your dogs in cold or wet weather? I often hear from people I meet, that their dog don`t need a coat, as their natural furry coat is sufficient, and that dogs are not meant to wear any apparel.

Before we had dogs as companions, they were often working dogs, sleeping, working and staying outside most of the day, and all year round. That meant they developed a coat that would sustain from wet and cold (to a certain degree), and coats were not needed. Today's a dog can an average of 18 - 20 hours indoors, do not develop the same thick coat as the dogs use to.

As most dogs spend the majority of their time inside, even breeds with a natural double fur might need to wear a coat against the cold. Their fur just isn`t as insulated due to the indoor temperatures, as nature intended.

Every dog is unique, and you will know best what works for your particular dog. Hair length and type, body composition, breed and age are all important determinants of how your dog keeps warm. However, most dog would benefit from using a coat, either if it`s to keep dry or warm.

Many people assume a dog’s coat will protect them from the chill of winter, but not all dogs are created equal when it comes to their ability to ward off the dangers of colder temperatures. Obviously, a St. Bernard or an Alaskan Malamute is more prepared for the snow than a Dachshund or Chihuahua, but a thick coat doesn’t mean a dog can’t get hypothermia or frostbite in extreme weather.

Just like humans wearing a winter coat, long-haired dogs can stay safe for a period of time in extreme cold, but eventually, the cold temperature will become dangerous.

Breeds with thick coats generally do not require cold weather protection for short periods of time, whereas short-haired breeds will be more comfortable with a winter sweater and booties. Activity level is another variable to include in the equation as you prepare to go outdoors. A stroll around the block is very different than a winter hike in the mountains or running at a fast pace. The duration of your outdoor time is also a factor.

Signs of Early Hypothermia in Dogs Include: • Shivering • Cold ears and feet • Rapid breathing • Increase in urination • Hair standing on ends

What about the rain, though? Do dogs need rain coats? Well, some breeds will feel more comfortable being outside in pouring rain, with a layer of fabric separating them from the wet elements. And, even though it`s not a deciding factor - having your couch not smell like wet dog after a hike in the rain, is more preferable to us humans. As a owner of Basenjis, a breed known to be extremely particular with regards to the weather, I find all our hikes in the rain, are much more enjoyable if they don`t get drenched in rain. They might not need a rain coat it in the same sense as a warm winter coat, but it makes a better hike and happier dogs. And, my car doesn`t smell of three wet dogs :-)

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