My pit-boxer Henry doesn’t wear a coat. I often think about buying him one and then my mind flashes back to when he was a dinosaur for Halloween. When we put that costume on him, I saw hatred in his eyes. Fortunately, because of Henry’s size and breed, I only need to worry about bundling myself up when we go on walks. And if you have a big, fluffy, shaggy pup like a Siberian Husky, Saint Bernard, or an Alaskan Malamute, there’s a good chance she’s also good to go in the snow. However, some dogs do need coats, and coats help keep them healthy, safe, and warm throughout winter and its unsavory conditions.
Who needs a coat?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), small dogs that are less than ten pounds (like Chihuahuas and toy terriers), short-haired breeds like greyhounds, and short-legged breeds like dachshunds need coats because they are more likely to get cold faster.
Sick and elderly dogs also need coats because dogs with illnesses and ailments like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, or kidney disease may be unable to regulate their body temperatures directly and a coat provides an extra layer to help prevent hypothermia. Pedigree says dog coats are also recommended if you live in an area where the temperature drops below zero or your dog spends a lot of time outdoors. If he’s a hunting, sled, or cattle dog, it’s important he has a good coat to stay warm throughout the day.
How do I buy a coat?
While it’s best to take your dog to a store like Petco or PetSmart to try on coats, it’s not always feasible and it can be a truly terrifying experience (for you and your dog). However, having your dog in the store with you helps determine which coat fits best, requires the least amount of work to get on, and, ultimately, which one she hates the least and is somewhat willing to wear.
Online shopping, on the other hand, is a less traumatic experience and offers more of a variety of styles and brands, especially with sites like BaxterBoo and Orvis.
Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of having your pup try it on first to see if and how it fits, so you’ll need proper measurements of your dog handy as size varies by manufacturer.
How do I know what size coat my dog wears?
You need to measure her. Sounds easy enough, right? The most important areas to measure are around her neck, the largest part of her chest, and the distance from her neck to her waist. The coat’s length should end around her waist, leaving her belly and legs free. Knowing her actual weight will also help you determine what size will fit her best.
It’s also important to keep your dog’s body type in mind; some designs are meant for deep-chested, narrow-waisted dogs like greyhounds while others are meant for fuller, block-bodied dogs like Golden Retrievers. Pedigree says most sweaters and coats come in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. If you’re unsure which size your dog should wear, here’s a rule of thumb: "Toy breeds usually wear extra small, Beagle-size breeds wear small, Retriever-size dogs wear large, and larger dogs wear extra-large."
If the coat is too close to his undercarriage or back end, messy, horrible, nasty accidents will happen and you (and your dog) will never recover. If it’s too tight, his movement will be constricted. Find a coat that fits, is comfortable, and doesn’t cover his legs.
What's the best coat to buy?
Coats made of fleece, wool, and cotton are most common. However, PetMD reminds owners that while wool is very warm and one of the best insulating materials, it’s important to take into account how often it will need to be washed and that it may cause your dog to itch and make her uncomfortable.
Your best bet is a coat with a good blend of washable wool and cotton or acrylic. The coat should also be waterproof and easy to slip on and off. And remember, less is more: the less zippers and buttons on the coat, the less she will be able to chew or swallow and the less you will have to zip and snap to take her outside.
Here are six great winter coats for dogs to keep your furbaby safe and warm this winter:
Blanket Dog Coat by Salty Paws — Salty Paws makes different dog coats, but their Blanket Dog Coat will make your pup feel like he’s bundled up, lying on a couch no matter where he is or what he’s doing. The water-resistant polyester shell reverses to soft fleece and the Velcro closures allow an adjustable but secure fit.
Panache Fleece Dog Coat – This coat is super soft, lightweight, and fully washable and has a chest protector (which extends from under the ribbed neck, covering your dog’s chest and ending at the stomach) for ultimate warmth and protection. What’s more, its unique rib knit turtleneck unfolds into a hood for when your dog is feeling extra moody and emo.
Avery Neoprene Dog Parka – Although this parka is primarily for working and hunting dogs, it’s also perfect for protecting your dog in harsh weather conditions, especially freezing rain. This coat keeps pups warm and dry in nasty weather and fastens easily with Velcro along your dog’s spine.
Shearling Fleece Dog Winter Coat – With its faux suede and fleece lining, this coat will keep your dog warm and trendy. It’s comfortable and machine washable and even has an adjustable belly strap for when she’s had too many holiday treats.
Ruffler Quinzee – If your dog is more of the athletic type, she’ll love this jacket. It’s warm, lightweight, and insulated and works well in extreme cold or inclement weather. Auto lock buckles on each side secure the jacket during play and activity and provide easy on and off flexibility, allowing your dog more time to be a dog.
Leather dog coats by The Leather Dog Co. – When he’s had a ruff day and just wants to take a ride on his Harley, he’ll love donning this jacket. The corduroy collar, quilting, and brass buckles will make him so warm, he’s cool. The best part? Leather is easy to care for so you can quickly wipe the coat clean when’s back from his road adventure.
Image: Morro Fenrir