Do Dogs Need Winter Coats? 4 Tips From a Vet

Posted on November 18, 2016 under Dog Topics

A golden retriever puppy wears a coat in the snow.

Our furry friends still like to spend time outside during the colder winter months, but do they need protective clothing such as sweaters and coats? In most cases, the answer is no. Most dogs have enough fur to keep them warm outside during the winter.

When making the decision on whether to put warm winter clothing on your dog, you should consider your dog’s size, breed and the outside temperature. Here are four tips to help you determine when a dog should and shouldn’t wear a coat.

1. Small Dogs

Very small dogs have a harder time retaining body heat, so they may need a sweater or coat when outside for extended periods of time during the winter. If your dog is a short haired breed or a breed that is originally from a warm climate, they may also need cold weather wear. These breeds include dogs such as the Chinese Crested, Chihuahua and Italian Greyhound.

2. Dogs with Lots of Fur

Dogs that have long hair such as the Pomeranian, Chow Chow, Husky and Great Pyrenees do not need additional clothing during the winter.

3. Outside Temperature and Length of Time

Additionally, the outside temperature and length of time outside should also be considered when deciding whether or not your dog needs to wear a coat. Dogs in temperatures greater than 45 degrees typically do not need protective clothing. If your dog will only be outside for 10 minutes or less, they typically do not need any clothing except in extremely cold climates.

4. Don’t Wear Indoors

It is important to remember that coats and sweaters on dogs should only be worn if needed when they are outside in very cold weather. Dogs should not wear these clothing items in the house as they can overheat easily. Clothing items should always be removed from the pet after they are no longer needed to prevent chafing and irritation of the skin. Remember to use your best judgment this winter on whether or not to put a coat on your dog. If you are unsure, just ask your veterinarian!

By Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, offering pet health insurance plans for dogs and cats across the U.S. since 2005.

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