We often think of sweaters and winter coats for dogs as kind of silly and just for show, but the truth is that your dog might need that extra warmth during the winter, just like you do! Here’s how to tell if your dog should wear a winter coat.
We adopted our dog Chuckers in the winter about six years ago and one thing we realized about him right away was that he wasn’t necessarily what you would call “outdoorsy”. At least not during the coldest months of the year. These days we actually joke that he must be part cat because you can usually find him curled up on Kennedy’s bed, happily sleeping the day away the way cats do. He does like a good walk though once he gets going, so we try to get him outside at least a few times during the day, even though he never asks to go out. We realized pretty quickly that we might need to look into winter coats for dogs, or at least some kind of sweater, because if there’s a chill in the air, Chuckers will just turn around and head right back inside.
Does Your Dog Need to Wear a Winter Coat?
I think that the reason why we always think clothing for dogs is silly is, first of all, because we’ve seen one too many dogs wearing silly outfits, being carried around in little pink purses in movies. And not many of us want to be that person or put our dog through that. We also always think that dogs are kind of wild animals with fur so clearly they’re naturally meant to live outside in all conditions. The truth is though, that there are many different types of dogs, who’s breeds originate from many different climates around the world, or who are bred for purposes that don’t necessarily involve being outside in below-freezing temperatures for hours at a time. Unless you have a husky or another similar bread meant for working outdoors in the most extreme winter conditions, you probably want to consider looking for signs that your furry friend might like a little extra warmth.
Winter Coats for Dogs: Signs That Your Dog May Need One
Our dog lets us know what he likes and dislikes with non-verbal cues all the time, and yours probably does too! Some of the signs we’ve seen pertaining to his feelings about weather include running right back inside when there’s rain, snow, or cold (that’s an obvious one), limping in the snow/trying to keep one of his feet up out of the snow, and pulling on the leash to go back towards the house or refusing to go past a certain point on the path we walk on next to our creek. We also notice that Chuckers shows a strong preference for the warmest areas of the house, like right in front of a vent when the furnace is on, or curled up on the softest blanket her can find on the couch. We also have to stop him from baking himself on the hot driveway in the summer. 🙂
I think the very best sign that we found is that Chuckers loves it when we put on his sweater and he’s happy to stay outside much longer in chilly weather when he’s wearing it. He comes running right over when he sees us take it down off of his hook in the mudroom and he’s even happy if we leave it on him when he comes back inside.
Also helpful to note: White dogs and dark-colored sweaters are maybe not the best combination. 🙂
Types of Winter Coats for Dogs
For some dogs, more of a sweater/vest will be plenty, especially if your winters don’t get very cold. The one Chuckers is wearing is from L.L. Bean and I have the human version in a different color, so I knew it was cozy. 🙂
You can also find full-on parka types of winter coats for dogs that provide a significant amount of warmth in the coldest conditions.
And they even have snowsuits! These give pretty much full-coverage for extra protection against the cold. I think I would have a hard time getting Chuckers into one of these because he’s really sensitive about his legs and feet, but a lot of dogs really love the coziness of a full snowsuit.
Other Winter Gear Options for Dogs
Another really great thing that a lot of dogs will find helpful is winter boots. Yes. They have winter boots for dogs. We actually own some for Chuckers but, again, he’s really sensitive about his feet and we’re still working on getting his nails a little shorter with frequent clippings so they don’t work so well for him. It’s too bad, because he hates cold feet!
Winter hats are a great option too for keeping sensitive ears warm. Chuckers actually doesn’t mind wearing a hat, but of course some dogs won’t like to have their ears covered.
Funny side note: We put a red glitter cowboy hat on him yesterday after Jack’s birthday party and he LOVED it. It was so funny. 🙂
You may be surprised at how much your dog will actually appreciate some of this extra winter gear though! The first time we put a hat on Chuckers, it was actually for a Halloween costume, but he loved it! So now we know that winter hats will help him fight those strong winter winds that we get out here that he hates so much.
You can find more ideas for supplies to help your dog enjoy the winter season in this post here: How to Help Your Dog Enjoy Winter.
Do you give your dog a little extra protection against the cold at this time of year? Follow me on Instagram for more photos of Chuckers’ adventures in his winter dog coat.
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