Do some dogs really need to wear coats and 'shoes' in winter?

14 February
27 February

Do some dogs really need to wear coats and 'shoes' in winter?

That's a really good question especially at this time of year! If we look at the coats first of all, there are plenty available from all over-onsies to overcoats. While you might think that dogs have perfectly good coats of their own, keep in mind that years of selective breeding has dramatically changed coat type and length.

Greyhounds for example have very thin hair with almost no undercoat - they feel the cold really easily and their fur isn't that waterproof. So when your whippet is shivering and refusing to go on a walk, you really should think about finding a decent jacket!

In contrast take a Northern breed like the Malamute, Northern Inuit or Husky - well, they have thick undercoats plus plentiful topcoats to give them warm waterproof layers. They're not going to thank you for adding on a jacket or waterproof.

Remember that dogs only sweat through their paws, so if they do overheat it's hard for them to lose the extra warmth. Plus that tough top coat is great at keeping the water away from the warm underfur, so you definitely don't want a heavy wet jacket sitting on top.

Your dog's breed and coat type, plus their reaction to bad weather should help you to work out if a jacket is really needed. There are some great technical bits of kit out there now, and those of you venturing out for long hill walks in winter weather should check out the options.

Moving on to "shoes" - the only time your dog is likely to need booties is when they have a paw injury (so you need to keep the foot dry and clean), or if you're sledding or canicrossing on rough terrain/hard ice and need to protect the pads. Even then we tend to use a protective wax as many dogs dislike wearing booties.

PS remember that not all dogs are happy wearing jackets or coats, take it slowly and introduce the new items with some tasty treats. Any clothing should be for your dog's benefit.

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