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Should You Get a Winter Coat for Your Dog?

A winter coat for dogs? Whether or not dogs truly need a dog coat is often disputed among dog lovers. Buzzwords such as "fashion accessory" often get thrown around discussions regarding the idea of a winter dog coat. Could it be true that dog coats are really just an aesthetic gimmick? Nothing but a piece of uncomfortable clothing for the dog?

Not at all! And today, we're excited to explain to you why we advocate for dog coats. I know what you're thinking... and it's not just because we sell dog clothes in Canada and the United States. Today, we're going to discuss in detail why every dog deserves a winter coat.

Dog Coats: Why They Are Absolutely Necessary

First of all, it should be made clear that we're not advocating for dog coats to make any type of fashion statement. We advocate for safety, functionality, comfort, and warmth. After all, it’s all about the needs of our four-legged companions, not our personal tastes.

The fact is that some dogs freeze in winter. There are various factors for this, such as a lack of undercoat or the climate of their origin. Try to think about this the same way winter affects us as humans. Some of us can't stand the cold, while some of us absolutely adore and ''warm-up'' to winter without problems. Some of us either need to be or prefer to be more prepared when going outdoors during winter. There is a temperature difference of up to 20°, sometimes 30° Celsius, between indoor and outdoor climates during Canada and the United States winter months.

The question "dog coat - yes or no?" is about what's best for your dog! If your fur baby seems happier or just as happy as ever with a winter coat on or tends to want to stay out longer on walks or trips to the dog park with it on, you can happily ignore any comments from the "dogs don't need a coat" peanut gallery.

Which Four-Legged Friends Need a Dog Coat?

Unfortunately, it's hard to pin down exact universal reasons, but all of the following points are valid arguments as to why dogs need additional thermal protection.

  • First of all, let's consider the breed. Dogs with a generally shorter coat or a lack of undercoat, such as Boxers, Greyhounds, and American Staffordshire Terriers, are more exposed to the cold than other dogs as well as breeds with shorter legs, such as Weiner dogs, Pugs, and French Bulldogs whose bodies are closer to the cold ground. But even long-haired dogs may have problems with the cold. For example, when playing in the snow without protective outer gear, their skin may freeze and develop irritation as snow and ice sticks to or gets caught in their fur.
  • The next factor is age. Puppies, for example, have a more fragile immune system, which is why they should be protected from excessive temperature fluctuations, preferably with a small dog coat. Older dogs also have increasing problems in the winter. Often, the immune system does not play along as well as it used to, and age-related muscle dysfunction or diseases such as arthritis means that the dog can no longer move around as much as possible to keep themselves warm.
  • An important consideration is a dog's health. Animals with joint problems or organ weaknesses need extra warmth and comfort. Temperature support is important for their wellbeing. A winter coat will work wonders for their spirit. You'll notice them visibly happier with a cozy, snug coat on.
  • A dog's origin can also be a reason for using a dog coat. For example, imagine a short-haired dog who spend its first five years in sunny Spain. One can imagine the shock of moving to a cold country like Canada. A dog coat will help ease the transition.
  • Last but not least, the use of a coat makes sense for dogs who are actively involved in dog sports. Of course, they should not wear jackets during training, but rather during breaks. This ensures that the warmed-up muscles do not immediately cool down again. This means that the dog only needs to warm up once which will minimize the risk of injury, just like a true athlete.

How Do You Know if a Dog is Freezing?

To answer this question as best as possible, we have compiled some of the most common signs that freezing dogs show regardless of their breed, age, or health condition.

We recommend keeping an eye on your dog during their outdoor activities in all weather, of course, but if you're trying to decide on a coat, pay extra attention to their body language on cooler days, wind, snow, or rain. Pay attention to how your four-legged friend moves. If they seem tense, frequently pull their back up, or tuck their tail under, they are most likely cold. Visible muscle tremors or atypical behavior that may indicate that they do not even want to leave home in cold weather is even more obvious.

Criteria for Selecting the Right Dog Coat

Now for the fun part of today's reading! Selecting the right dog coat. First of all, let's consider the fit. Your dog's legs, neck, and tail must be able to move freely, completely undisturbed. Yet, in the areas that the coat covers, the fleece or warm lining should hug the body so that cold and wet cannot infiltrate between the coat and the skin. Extendibility and adjustability are beneficial here, as they compensate for certain deviations and allow optimal coverage and protection without compromising mobility.

Something we always consider is our dogs’ chests as the generally have little hair. Protecting their chest is even more important than protecting their back from the harsh environments as their chests are closer to the ground and their backs are usually better protected anyway, thanks to their fur. Another sensitive and often underestimated area is a dog's neck. You'll notice that our coats consider this tender area, for the same reason we wear scarves. However, if you choose one of our coats while attaching a leash to a collar, please ensure that the neck material has sufficient stretch if you need easy access to your dog's collar. Otherwise, putting on and taking off a leash could be unnecessarily difficult.

Dog Coat in Practice

Finally, we want to address a few important points when using your new coat. Basically, you should put your dog’s coat on inside your home, right before leaving. This will make things easier on your dog as he or she gets ready to acclimatize.

Your four-legged buddy does not have to wear their coat for the entire length of a walk or play date. If they are known to play, romp and run for extended periods of time, there could be a risk of overheating. If your dog seems warm but activity is about to be increased, you could take off the coat and only put it back on near the end of or after activity.

Now... what about in the car? In general, your dog won't need a coat on if the journey is long, as the vehicle's heater will keep you both warm. We recommend taking your dog's coat off once it's in the vehicle and then putting it back on before leaving the so that there is not too much of a temperature difference. To make everyone’s life easier, choose a coat that is easy to put on and take off, without too many fiddly buttons, straps or snaps! It's about making sure they are comfortable!