How can you tell if your dog needs canine clothing? It’s fairly safe to say that if you have a healthy, young dog of a substantial size like a malamute, husky, golden retriever or shepherd, to name a few, who is acclimated to cold and has a thick insulating coat, you likely don’t need to invest in dog clothing for walks in the rain or snow. That said, there are three kinds of dogs who do benefit from the extra insulation of a sweater or coat, as well as the protection needed by life as a pampered house pooch.
Dogs who are elderly or ill or both.
Dogs with very short, fine hair and not much body mass. (Like greyhounds, whippets, dachshunds and even some fine-coated terriers like Jack Russells.)
What these dogs all have in common is that they have a tougher time generating and maintaining enough body heat all on their own because they have so little fur and, as a result, they can certainly benefit from a little extra help keeping warm and dry.
Protection from the rain, snow, wind and cold temperatures are all reasons to put clothes on dogs headed outside, and it doesn’t hurt to leave a sweater on them inside as well if you like to keep the heat on the low side.
At our house my Bichons have always had cold/wet weather gear. Jackets to help keep them a little cleaner and dryer through our Vancouver rain as well as sweaters and puffy vests for the cold weather that can also nip at their toes during our winters. My dogs have always loved the snow but need protection that a sweater or coat offers from snow lumps getting clumped in their fur rendering them immobile.
If you have a dog with arthritis, warm snuggly clothing is just one thing you can do to make winters more comfortable (besides wintering in Palm Springs). There are also some amazing pet-safe heated orthopedic dog beds that are a great idea to help combat arthritis, as are neutraceuticals like glucosamine and Omega-3 oils that have been clinically proven to ease joint pain. If you suspect arthritis we recommend you work with your vet as this is an extremely painful and progressive disease for your dog.
Even if your dog doesn’t need a coat, having one certainly won’t hurt him. I have always used rain coats and sweaters when walking my dogs, especially in wet weather, which saves me the trouble of cleaning a wet dog at the door before we come back inside. And a dry dog is one who happily climbs back onto the sofa once we are inside! Boots are also a big help for keeping paws cleaner but also as protection from snow, salt & de-icing chemicals that are toxic should your pet wish to lick them off. They work to protect feet in all types of weather -- from cold to hot when the high temperatures could burn your dog’s paw pads.
Bottom line? Clothes don’t make the dog, but they do make them a whole lot cuter! There’s nothing wrong with having fun and dressing your dog. Nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than canine couture... a smart ensemble means a chic pooch walking down the street? Ooh la la!