Do Dogs Need to Wear Dog Coats?

by Tracey Sandilands, Demand Media Google
    Indoor dogs benefit from a warm coat to wear outside in winter.

    Indoor dogs benefit from a warm coat to wear outside in winter.

    Pet experts are divided on the question of whether dogs need to wear coats when the weather is cold. As a human owned by a dog, you decide whether your furry friend benefits from sporting the latest fashion in canine outerwear, or is better off naked as nature intended.

    Staying Warm

    Short-haired dogs and hairless breeds do feel the cold, as well as clipped or shaved pups, while small dogs lose body heat faster than large dogs. If you and your canine live in a cold climate and your dog is accustomed to being in a heated house most of the day, you can expect her to feel the chill when you walk outside. Going from a cozy 74 F straight outside to 30 F or colder isn’t healthy for man or beast. While some dogs such as Siberian huskies can handle Arctic weather, the average pooch just isn’t cut out for it, and if your dog is a Dachshund, a greyhound or a short-haired Chihuahua, you’ll need to evaluate what her temperature tolerance level is.

    Keeping Cool

    A lightweight summer coat can help to prevent your best friend from overheating during the hot summer months. Dogs who are shaved in summer lose out on the natural insulation offered by their fur, while dogs with light-colored skin may sustain skin damage if they spend lots of time in the sun. Police, sporting and working dogs might benefit from a fitted cooling vest, made from materials that are recharged by soaking in ice water or storage in a refrigerator. Once charged, the vests can maintain a stable temperature of 80 degrees F for up to five hours.

    Health Issues

    If your dog has a weakened immune system or has experienced an illness that could affect her skin or coat such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease, she may feel the cold more keenly -- even indoors. If you keep your heat on a low setting, keep your canine warm and comfortable by fitting her with a lightweight, indoor coat or sweater. Give her a warmer coat for outdoor walks and complement the look by fitting her with booties to protect her feet and a hood to keep her ears warm.

    Age and Fit

    Older dogs often have medical conditions that reduce their normal body heat, or diseases such as arthritis that are aggravated by cold weather. Your elderly or geriatric dog may benefit from a snug coat to wear in the evenings or during the cold winter weather. For indoor warmth, buy your dog a coat made from wool. Make sure she can move about freely and that the jacket fits comfortably. For outdoor wear, a waterproof coat will help keep her warm and dry. Always make sure your dog's clothing is free of her privates so she can relieve herself easily.

    About the Author

    Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.

    Photo Credits

    • Three Lions/Valueline/Getty Images