Dressing dogs in winter: A guide for dog owners

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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.

What dogs are good to dress in the winter?

About 30% of dog breeds are very sensitive to cold weather. 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.

The cold winter weather, when the temperature drops to or below zero, can cause problems to some dogs and sometimes even put them in danger. In particular, it applies to there dog breeds and dogs:

  • No hair breeds don’t have any natural protection. These hairless dogs are typically small dog breeds such as Chinese Crested, Peruvian Hairless Dog, or Mexican Hairless Dog, and they require special winter care. They certainly cannot go out without dog coat, boots, or other clothes.
  • Short hair breeds are protected a little bit better, but still, you should be careful during winter. You can take them out for a few minutes without any dog clothes, but for longer trips, we would recommend putting on some apparel. There are a few exceptions, some large or medium short-hair dog breeds are much better protected, and there is no need to put any dog clothes on them. Rottweilers or Dobermans are among them. On the other hand, it is not given that these dogs cannot wear clothes in the winter.
  • Small breeds problem is that their belly is closer to the ground, which can affect their thermoregulation. In comparison, little dogs are in more danger than large ones.
  • Old dogs lose the ability to regulate their temperature.
  • Puppies are more prone to get cold, because they are not very well adjusted to the cold weather yet.
  • Sick or recovering dogs are very susceptible to colds. They move less and don't warm up just by moving around, plus their body uses up a lot of the energy to recover.

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.

Dog paw care

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. Post-walk care: The first thing we need to do is wipe the dog's paws dry with a clean cloth or towel after each walk.
  2. Paw balms and waxes: 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.
  3. Booties: The next way how to protect dog paws is to use dog boots.

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Main reasons to use dog booties

Although it may seem strange to some, dog boots have their place in dog care.

  • 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.

Frequently asked questions

1. Do all dogs need winter clothes?

No, whether a dog needs winter clothes depends on their breed, coat quality, age, and overall health. Some dogs with short hair or no undercoat may benefit from clothing, while others with thick double coats may not need them.

2. How should I decide whether my dog needs winter clothing?

Consider factors such as the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors, the weather conditions, and the length of time your dog will be outside. Also, consider your dog's breed, coat quality, age, and health.

3. How can I ensure my dog's comfort when wearing clothes?

Choose comfortable, breathable clothing that allows your dog to move freely, and monitor their behavior to ensure they are not stressed or uncomfortable. Make sure the clothing doesn't restrict their movement or vision and doesn't pose any hazards.

4. Why should I protect my dog's paws during winter?

In winter, roads and pavements are covered with salt and grit, which can irritate and cause pain to a dog's paws. Protecting their paws helps prevent sensitivity and cracking.

5. How can I protect my dog's paws in winter?

You can protect your dog's paws by wiping them dry with a clean cloth or towel after each walk, applying a protective cream that doesn't contain water, and using dog boots to shield them from ice, snow, and salt.

Conclusion

Dressing dogs for winter depends on various factors such as breed, coat quality, age, and health. Small breeds, short-haired dogs, those without an undercoat, and older or recovering dogs may benefit from wearing clothes in cold weather. However, dogs with thick double coats may not need clothing unless exposed to extreme conditions. When dressing dogs, consider temperature differences, weather, their comfort, and the right clothing and booties. Dog paws require special attention during winter, as salt and grit on roads can irritate them. Wiping paws dry and using protective cream or dog boots can help protect them.

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