Do Dogs Need Sweaters? How to Keep Your Pal Warm in Cold Weather
As cold weather slowly arrives around Katy, you bundle up. But what about your dog? Should she be bundling up too? If you’re curious whether a sweater would do any good, read on! For many pups, a sweater or coat is more than just a fashion statement.
Does My Dog Need a Sweater?
Many dogs have fur long enough to protect them from low temperatures. Other types of dog could use a little help! If your dog fits into one of the categories below, it may be time to do some clothes shopping.
1. She’s a Puppy
A puppy absolutely should wear a coat in cold weather. Since she’s so close to the ground, the extra protection can help them keep comfortable as they play outside or go through potty training.
Also, if you have a puppy that will need a sweater later in life, puppyhood is the right time to start training them to be comfortable in clothing.
2. She’s a Smaller Breed or Has Shorter Legs
Just like puppies, smaller breeds sit close to the ground and can benefit from sweaters. If your dog is a small, miniature, or toy breed, she generally won’t be able to retain enough body heat to keep comfortable during the colder months, especially if she also has shorter hair.
These small breeds are just a few examples:
- French bulldog
- Toy terrier
- Miniature Pinscher
- Basset Hound
3. She Has Short Hair
Even larger pups that are short haired or groomed to have short hair, like poodles, can benefit from sweaters in the wintertime. Without the long fur, they have a hard time retaining heat.
4. She’s a Senior
Senior dogs, just like humans, tend to get colder more easily, and are more prone to problems like arthritis that can be made worse by the cold.
5. She Has a Medical Condition
If your dog is ill or has a weak immune system, put her in a sweater or coat before she heads outside. Even young dogs with medical issues benefit from the extra layer!
6. She Recently Had Surgery
Recent surgery could make your dog susceptible to other illnesses. If she dog an operation, talk to your vet about post-op care to see if she needs a sweater on colder days.
When Does My Dog Need a Sweater?
Bundle her up when:
- It’s 45 degrees or colder outside, especially if she’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes
- It snows
- You’re inside and you don’t like to run the heater often
How to Find the Perfect Outer Layer!
When looking for the perfect sweater or jacket for your dog, fashion is fun, but keep substance in mind too!
Look for the Optimal Material
Dog coats and sweaters come in a variety of materials, and what works for one dog may not be best for another.
Wool, for example, can be wonderful for very low temperatures, but your pup may find the material itchy. In this area, a better choice is probably a mix between wool, cotton, and acrylic. A poncho is a good choice if it’ cold and raining or snowing and your dog doesn’t need something extra heavy. Fleece is also an option.
No matter what type of sweater or coat you choose, observe your dog to make sure she’s comfortable in it!
Vet Tip: Invest in outerwear that’s easy to clean. There’s no doubt your pup will get it messy!
Make Sure It Fits Well
While you might want to bundle up to the point that you can barely move in your winter clothing, that’s not the best for your pup. To ensure her sweater fits your dog properly, check around her collar and chest. You should be able to fit two fingers between the coat and the dog.
Chose a coat that covers her stomach but leaves room for her tail and allows her to go to the bathroom. A coat that works for a female dog may not work for a male pup.
Avoid Dog Sweaters with Sleeves
Sweaters and coats with sleeves are cute, but they’re very rarely practical. They can restrict your dog’s movement and make her uncomfortable. Whichever sweater you choose, make sure your pooch can move normally.
Try It on At the Store
Dog coats and sweaters have sizes (extra small, small, large, and extra large), but these are general guidelines. If you’re buying clothes at a pet store, ask if your pup can try the sweater on before you purchase it.
What If My Dog Doesn’t Want to Wear a Sweater?
If your dog isn’t used to a sweater, she may be reluctant to put on clothing, no matter how warm it keeps her. As with most dog behavior, training can do great things! The earlier you start, the easier it will be for your dog to get comfortable. Follow these steps, and make sure you have treats on hand for every step of the process!
Step 1: Show your dog her sweater, allowing her to sniff it. Repeat this for a few days.
Step 2: Rub the sweater on her fur gently to get her accustomed to the texture. Repeat for a few days, holding the sweater against her fur for longer each time.
Step 3: Put the sweater on your dog for short periods of time. After each success (and treat), put the sweater on for longer.
Even with training, not all dogs respond positively to clothing. If she refuses to wear a sweater or jacket or refuses to move once it’s on, limit her time outside in cold weather with it on to just a few minutes.
Sweaters look great on dogs, but they also serve an important purpose! If your dog needs a coat, do your shopping for the perfect fit before winter arrives, or put it on her Christmas list. She’ll be cozy and fashionable!
The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital
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