Do Dogs Need Clothes During Winter?

List: Posted: 01/17/11

We’ve all seen them, and many of us have even mocked them.  Dogs in cute little outfits can look absolutely ridiculous when they are being walked down the street in the middle of summer.  But what about in winter?  Should your dog actually be wearing a sweater to keep him or her warm in winter? 

While large breed dogs and dogs living in warmer climates are typically fine with their own bodily protection in winter, many smaller dogs like the Chihuahua and shorthaired breeds such as the Boxer do feel the cold very keenly.  Other dogs that need a little help in cold weather are skinny breeds like the Greyhound, and all older dogs above the age of 7 or 8.  In fact, in areas where the temperature drops below zero, almost all dogs should be wearing some kind of protection when going for a long walk.  If you look down and you see that your dog is shivering or if your pet comes from an area with a warmer climate, you may in fact find yourself needing to shop for dog clothing this winter.

Just like with humans, dog clothing can be a necessity if your dog is old or shorthaired.  Extreme temperatures can be just as dangerous to your pet as to your children, and a bad chill can make them get sick in just the same way.  The most basic item of dog clothing is simply a blanket with two straps which fastens around your dog's shoulders and belly to keep it on. You can even make one of these yourself if you have basic sewing skills.  A wearable dog blanket will immediately make your dog feel warmer by keeping in their body heat.

 

The most low-tech option you can get if you don't want to spend much money is to simply buy a large thick sweater from a charity or thrift store, chop off both arms at the elbow, and use a lightweight stretchable elastic belt (not a leather belt) to snugly belt the bottom so it doesn't fall off your dog when they run. Take care not to fasten it too tightly - it's important it doesn't fall off but more important that your dog can breathe!

 

Choosing a water resistant material that will keep your dog from getting soaked in snow and slush during a long walk can be a very good idea.  Sweaters that cover the chest, stomach, and back are ideal, and you will find that fleece can be very warm.  You can even buy boots if your dog will be walking through wet snow (slush), although your dog may require some training in wearing these, and should never be allowed to run at full speed wearing dog shoes or boots due to the risk of slipping or leg injury.

Protecting your dog is your responsibility as a pet owner, and even if you find the notion amusing, providing your dog with a sweater or jacket in the coldest parts of winter may actually be something that you need to do.  Thankfully, with enough research you can find a pattern or option that will feel right for your personality as well as your pet.

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