Does My Dog Really Need to Wear a Jacket in Winter?

Jackets and jumpers on a dog can be the cutest thing ever! Some dogs absolutely love putting their clothes on and will run to you as soon as you pick up their favourite set of Pj’s. Others will run away from you at the sight of the cupboard where their raincoat is stored is opened.
Whether or not your dog likes to wear a coat can become a determining factor as to whether you use them or not, but, you do need to know when it’s a good idea and when it’s not.

 

Types of Coats/Jackets/Jumpers

We’ll just use the word jacket from here.
Make sure their comfortable! No rubbing, no itchy fabrics, no velcro touching their skin, not too tight, the correct length etc.
There’s heaps of ways a jacket could become uncomfortable for your dog. The first time they wear one they may not know if they can move or not. If you’ve ever tried one on your dog and had them standing in one spot like a statue – that’s what I’m talking about. So, as long as you’ve tested it all over to ensure it’s comfortable, you can feel confident about allowing your dog to get used to it.


Providing your choice of attire is comfortable for your dog:
Jumpers are often a little bit more body hugging, allowing your dog to move more freely but won’t protect your dog from the rain. Dogs with little or no hair benefit most from jumpers as it provides them with a sort of, toupe, if you will.

Jackets/Coats are great for dogs that don’t appreciate something wrapped around their body. It leaves there legs free to move whilst protecting their body, back and spine from the cold. Make sure all the velcro and tie ups are not rubbing anywhere and ensure it’s a good length for your dog. Above the floor and covers the length of their back.

 

But, does my dog need to wear a jacket?
Short answer, sometimes. Haha sorry!
Generally, If your dog has hair, anything except a smooth coated dog or hairless dog, your dog shouldn’t need one. After all, that’s what their hair is for. Although, each dog has their own optimal temperature. Person A’s German Shepherd might be hiding in their house curled up having a nap while Peron B’s Pug is running around in the rain. The trick is to know when your dog is cold and warm and circumstances when they may need some help. Some breeds are more susceptible to the cold and sometimes it’s just the individual dog.
Their kennel should be their place of warmth in winter and a place to keep cool in summer. I always recommend a sheep skin or wool rug to place on the floor of the kennel for warmth + a few fleece blankets and a trampoline bed in the summer for comfort and air flow.

 There are definitely times when jackets are helpful, assuming your dog has a warm place to stay during their time away from you when you’re not home.

NEVER: Keep a jacket, coat or jumper on your dog when you are not there as they can become entangled. You’d never want your dog caught out in the rain because their jacket got caught on a plant or tree in the backyard!

 

Your dog is likely not to need a jacket if:

    • They are panting. They’re already warm! (They can also be nervous if their panting in certain situations)
    • They feel warm under their armpits or on their body.
    • They have their jacket on and feel hot underneath it + other symptoms of being hot. They should feel warm but not hot.
    • It’s above 20 degrees Celsius and sunny.
    • Their paws are leaving prints on the floor – that’s them sweating.
    • They’re currently sunbaking. Your dog knows what they’re doing.

 

Your dog may prefer a jacket if:

    • They have little to no hair (Think, Italian Greyhound or Smooth Dachshund)
    • There is an icy or chilly wind.
    • It’s raining on your walk.
    • Your dog feels the cold more – they shake on days when it’s not that cold.
    • Their elderly – again they may feel the cold more than others.
    • Your dogs is sick and a vet recommended they stay warm.

I’ve determined my dog is cold! When should I put a jacket on?
Think of your dog wearing a jacket the same as when you would wear one. At home, what does your dog do? Most will curl up in their bed or might be playing with some toys. You wouldn’t wear a jacket in bed or when playing a sport because you generally feel warm doing those activities. Of course, pay attention to your individual dogs behaviour but in most cases, a jacket is not needed at home. They have their bed and/or kennel for warmth.
When you leave the house to go out somewhere or on a walk, you would grab a jacket. If the weather permits and pups coming along, you may like to dress them in a coat to keep warm and/or dry.

 

Tips for stylish owners

    1. Make sure their comfortable! That means, their used to it and don’t mind wearing one. There’s nothing rubbing on their skin to cause irritation or cuts and they are actually cold without one.
    2. Get a few different jackets. Some warmer than others. Your dog may only need a light windbreaker one day and a fluffy fleece lined coat the next day.
    3. If during your walk you think your dog may be getting too hot, their panting, they feel very hot under their jacket, it may still be cold outside but that particular jacket is too warm. Have a lighter jacket with you and switch to the lighter one. Have you ever felt warm and removed your jacket only to immediately feel the chilly wind? It’s not a nice feeling for you or your pup.
    4. If your dog has longer hair, just remember the friction of a jacket may cause your dogs hair to knot up, always brush your dog after wearing a coat to prevent excessive knots or matting from occurring.
    5. Try a few different styles of jackets on your dogs to see which they feel the most comfortable in. Some will prefer jumpers and others coats.

 

Conclusion
Jackets and jumpers are an awesome way to keep your dog warm so you can enjoy your winter outings together. But too many times have I seen dogs walking the streets in cute little outfits, panting away trying to tell their owners their too hot. Learn to recognise the signs of heat stress, avoid dressing your dog in outfits unsuitable for the weather and make sure your dog isn’t miserable and uncomfortable wearing clothes. Your dog will thank you for keeping them warm while you get to put them in gorgeous colourful coats and you’ll feel better knowing you can confidently determine when your dog needs one and when they don’t.