Does My Dog Need a Coat This Winter?

Does your dog need a coat? Dressing up your dog in the latest puffer vest, waterproof jacket, or stylish sweater may be all the rage these days – just stop in any pet store to see what we mean – but does your pup really need that added layer? The answer is varied depending on breed, conditions, and more. For the typical walks, a coat is not necessary in most cases, though it can help with your dog’s comfort level especially depending on breed and size and tolerance to the winter weather. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with fashion or that no dogs ever need added protection from the elements. Read on to learn more. 

Does My Dog Need a Coat?

As per our friends at PetMD, “How warm your dog is able to physically keep himself may depend on his breed, size and even age, but if he just doesn’t have a heavy hair coat, there is only so much curling up he can do to conserve heat. Smaller, light bodied breeds, toy breeds, and breeds that naturally have very short or thin hair coats benefit from a warm dog sweater for when they need to go outside, or for just hanging around the house. A sweater can make a significant difference in your dog’s feeling of well-being.” 

Smaller breeds, thin skinned dogs, and more sensitive pooches may benefit from added protection from the elements. A simple sweater may be enough, but if you plan on spending more time outside in the colder winter weather, make sure you and your pup are both dressed for the occasion. If there’s snow on the ground, a waterproof coat may not be a bad idea to keep your dog warm, dry, and insulated. If they have sensitive paws, you may also want to consider boots to protect their pads and if you’re doing any longer amounts of hikes, protection is a wise idea.

does my dog need a coat this winter

Some dog breeds don’t tolerate the cold well!

Does Breed Matter?

Absolutely, breed does matter when talking about protection from the elements. If you’re a Husky or Malamute owner, chances are they’ll outlast you in the coldest of temperatures without any coat, boots, or anything else for that matter as their fur and bodies are naturally designed for colder climates. But bear in mind that these dogs in summer may need added protection from the sun and heat to stay comfortable.

On the flip side, thinner skinned breeds, or breeds hailing from warmer climates originally, may need some assistance. Smaller breeds like Jack Russels, various short hair and wire hair terriers, and other small dogs tend to have a lower tolerance for the cold. If you plan on winter outdoor activities, pay extra attention to how they are doing – watch for shivering and be aware of wet areas such as puddles or slush that can quickly lead to frostbite. 

Can Dogs Get Frostbite?

Yes, dogs can get frostbite and any breed is susceptible. Just as with needing a sweater or coat, smaller and thinner skinned breeds are more likely to experience frostbite and need additional protection. Though absolutely any dog – even Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes – can get frostbite when the temperature is below freezing at 32°. 

If you suspect your dog may have frostbite, get them in from the elements immediately and seek veterinary attention. Symptoms can include discoloration of the affected skin, usually on the pads of the feet, coldness to the touch, pain when touched, and even in some cases swelling and / or blistering. Just like with people, frostbite can be serious so it’s important to be aware that no dog of any breed is immune.

So whatever your winter weather plans are, make sure to keep your dog in mind when planning outdoor excursions, adventures, or even short walks so that they can stay comfortable too! And if you have any concerns about your dog in this weather or suspect they are experiencing frostbite or any other cold weather related ailments, please see your veterinarian right away! 

can a dog need a coat if its a husky

While Huskies and Malamutes were bred to be sled dogs, that doesn’t mean your family pet is as conditioned to the cold as their Arctic-living counterparts!

Our Certifications

AAHA: The Animal Hospital of Sussex County is a certified hospital in the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). To achieve this distinction, our hospital has passed regular comprehensive inspections of our facilities, medical equipment, veterinary practice methods and management. If you are traveling or relocating anywhere, finding an AAHA hospital will ensure the best medical care for your pet. The AAHA is recognized as the world’s leading association of small animal practitioners.

AAFP: We are also a cat friendly practice, certified by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This means that the Animal Hospital of Sussex County is specifically set up to decrease stress and provide a more calming environment for your cat. Our staff has also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat.

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