Does my dog need winter clothes?

January 20, 2023

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Dressing dogs is a controversial topic among pet owners. Some enjoy dressing up their furry friends and have a wide range of clothing options for them, while others argue that dogs do not need clothing as they are already equipped with a natural coat to keep them warm. So, who is right?

The answer to this question is that it depends on a variety of factors, including the breed of the dog, the quality of their coat, their age, and their overall health.

Humans have selectively bred various dog breeds to exhibit a range of coat characteristics, from hairless to heavily haired. Additionally, many breeds have been removed from their natural environments and relocated to vastly different climates. And in most cases, we keep our dogs year-round in warm homes, even when it's cold outside. Given these facts, that we've domesticated dogs and should adapt our care for them accordingly, including dressing them up.

What dogs are good to dress in the winter?

For example, small breeds, dogs with short hair, or those without an undercoat may benefit from wearing clothes in cold weather. This is also true for larger breeds that have a difficult time handling the cold, as well as older, sick, or recovering dogs. Additionally, puppies may also benefit from wearing clothes as they are more susceptible to getting cold.

On the other hand, dogs with thick, double coats that are bred for cold weather conditions, as well as healthy, active dogs, may not need to wear clothes. However, if they are exposed to extreme conditions for a prolonged period of time, it may be beneficial to dress them up.

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Here are a few points you should follow when dressing your dog:

1. Difference in temperatures to which the dog is exposed

Dogs should be clothed if there is a large temperature difference between indoors and outdoors and if they will be outside for a long period of time.

2. Weather and length of stay outdoors

There is a difference between going for a walk when it is freezing but the sun is shining or when it is raining and the wind is blowing. You need to consider the weather your dog will be exposed to and decide whether and how to dress your dog accordingly. At the same time, there is a difference between taking your dog for a half-hour walk or a day trip.

3. Monitor your dog's comfort

It is important to supervise and monitor dogs when they are dressed up outside, to make sure they are not overheating or feeling uncomfortable, and to adjust their clothing as necessary. What's more, some dogs may be comfortable wearing clothing, while others may find it restrictive or irritating. It is important to respect their feelings.

4. Choose the right clothes and booties

It's important to consider not just the dog's physical needs but also their comfort and behavior. It's important to choose comfortable and breathable clothing that allows them to move freely and monitor their behavior to ensure they are not stressed or uncomfortable. It's also important to make sure that the clothing doesn't restrict their movement or vision and doesn’t pose any hazards such as choking or ingestion.

Nowadays, you can buy dog clothes for various types of weather: raincoats, winter coats, vests, and dog booties. Always consider all aspects listed above when choosing appropriate clothing.

And what about dog paws?

The dog's paws require special attention. In winter, the roads and pavements are covered with salt and grit to make them safe for walkers and cars. Protecting dog paws is really important. Apart from claws, dog paws have soft cushions, which can be irritated by the salt and become very sensitive or even cracked.

  1. The first thing we need to do is wipe the dog's paws dry with a clean cloth or towel after each walk. Another important thing is to treat the dog's paws in winter with a protective cream. The cream shouldn’t contain water because it could have the opposite effect.

  2. The second way to protect dog paws is to use dog boots.

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Although it may seem strange to some, dog boots have their place in dog care. What are the main reasons to use dog booties?

  • Snow packed in paws can quickly cause discomfort and even suffering for dogs in colder climates.

  • Walking on ice without sufficient protection can result in cuts and injuries to a dog's paws.

  • Salt used to melt snow and ice can be harsh on a dog's paws, causing irritation and pain, especially for dogs with sensitive skin.