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Does My Dog Need a Winter Coat? What You Need to Know to Keep Your Pet Warm

Vizsla dog wearing a blue winter coatAs temperatures drop, people who have dogs may wonder if they should put their precious pet in a dog winter coat to keep them warm and safe during the cold season. If you are one of them, while your heart may be in the right place, you must know that not all dogs require dog jackets and vests.

In some instances, you could actually be doing more harm than good by putting that extra layer on your dog. However, many dogs will benefit from the extra layer under the right conditions. West Park Animal Hospital in Cleveland, OH wants to ensure your dog stays comfortable and safe. Below you’ll learn when it’s necessary and safe to put a dog coat on your canine friend.

Should You Put a Winter Coat on a Dog?

When deciding if you should or shouldn’t put your canine in a winter coat, several factors come into play. For instance, you’ll need to take into account things like:

  • The temperatures outside
  • Wind chill
  • How sunny it is
  • If your dog can get wet
  • How long you plan to have them outside (quick potty break vs. winter walk)

When you’re outdoors, the best thing you can do is to always play it safe. While it’s easy to put a dog coat on, sometimes it’s just easier to bring your dog indoors if you see them shivering, acting anxious, or becoming distressed. You should also consider your dog’s health status, age, and acclimation to colder temperatures.

At What Temperatures Should You Use a Dog Coat?

A winter jacket for your dog may be a good idea if there are persistent chilly winds or ice and snow on the ground. Thin-furred, small breeds, senior dogs, and puppies will typically benefit from winter coats when outdoor temperatures get below 32°F (0°C). You must pay close attention to your dog, no matter what breed they are, for signs that they’re cold, when outdoor temperatures drop below 20°F (-6.6°C). If you need to put a winter jacket on, that may be a good sign that your dog should wear one too.

Which Breeds Should Have Dog Jackets and Vests?

As a general rule of thumb, larger breeds with dense, thick coats are already protected fairly well from the cold. This is especially true of Northern breeds, such as Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes, with fur coats that are genetically designed for warmth. However, other types of dogs will require extra protection in extreme weather, including:

  • Dogs with bellies that sit low to the ground. Even though certain breeds have thick coats, like the Pembroke Welsh Corgis, their bellies sit low to the ground and come in contact with the ice and snow.
  • Small, miniature, and toy-short-haired breeds. Examples of these breeds are French Bulldogs and Chihuahuas. These types of breeds can’t create and retain sufficient body heat easily which makes it harder to keep themselves warm. A dog coat may be ideal for them.
  • Lean-bodied, short-haired breeds. These include Whippets and Greyhounds. They will also require extra protection from the cold.
  • Breeds that have short or clipped hair. Poodles are a good example of this type of breed. They would typically have long hair, but often owners will have them clipped and groomed which can alter their coats’ natural protection.
  • Senior dogs. Older dogs are more vulnerable to conditions such as a weakened immune system or arthritis that may require them to wear a dog winter coat. Their heat regulation declines as they get older. This makes even thick-coated dogs susceptible and uncomfortable in the cold.

Once you’ve determined if you should put a jacket on your dog, you’ll want to look for a dog coat that will protect their belly and neck. The coat should fit snugly, but not too tight where it restricts your dog’s movement.

Let West Park Animal Hospital Take Care of Your Dog

West Park Animal Hospital in Cleveland, OH is AAHA certified and provides veterinary care that meets or exceeds the absolute highest pet care standards today. We provide expert guidance and services to pet owners to extend their relationship with their beloved pets. Our caring team understands you have questions, including whether or not your beloved pet should wear a dog winter coat, and we are happy to help!

West Park Animal Hospital proudly serves West Park, Berea, Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Rocky River, Cleveland, and Lakewood, as well as other surrounding areas. We offer continuity of care — you can receive emergency care at the same location as the general doctor. Call us at (216) 252-4500 or visit our website to learn how we can help you with all of your dog’s needs.