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Do dogs really need to wear coats and boots in winter?

Posted by Mike Trevena 07/07/2016

Winter is coming…and so are dogs in coats and boots.

We’ve all been there: you’re out walking your furry friend and you’ll notice a dog wearing a coat and maybe boots and you can’t help but wonder whether your dog should have his or her own wardrobe too. Surely dogs don’t really need bright pink coats with furry hoods?

Dogs aren’t always born with everything they need to protect them from the elements so in some cases coats and boots can be really useful.

Does my dog need a coat for winter?

Not all breeds naturally have the fur they need to keep themselves warm. Siberian Huskies are more than equipped to deal with cold weather and snow but Greyhounds are not.

If your dog has short hair, regardless of whether they are a big dog or a small dog, they can benefit from wearing a coat when they are out during the winter.

You may find a coat useful if your dog is elderly, has a weak immune system or an illness which makes it hard for them to maintain their body temperature.

When buying your dog a coat measure him or her first to make sure you get a coat which fits properly. It’s very important to make sure the fit is right as if it’s too tight it could restrict movement but if the coat is too loose it could get caught on something and injure your dog.

Something else you should pay attention to is whether it has things like zippers, buttons or anything else which your dog could eat.

When your dog is wearing the coat keep an eye out for excessive panting as it may be a sign that your dog is too warm.

Does my dog need to wear boots?

You might think that your dog’s paw pads will be enough protection but cold weather can be very harsh on paw pads. Salt grit and deicer can also irritate your furry friend’s feet, as can snow which may get trapped between their toes.

If you decide to get boots for your dog make sure that you find some that fit properly as a badly fitted boot can hurt your dog.

If your dog isn’t thrilled about the idea of wearing boots there are some simple things you can do to protect your dog’s paw pads in winter:

  • Keep fur trimmed around paws to prevent snow build up.
  • Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to your dog’s paw pads before you go out to protect against salt grit.
  • You can also buy balms to put on paw pads which can help heal damage.
  • Bathe your dogs feet in lukewarm water when you get home to remove any salt grit or deicer and melt away any snow that may be trapped. Make sure you dry them thoroughly afterwards.

Remember to adjust the length of walks to suit your dog’s needs in cold weather. While exercise is important, your dog probably doesn’t want to be outside for long in very cold weather and would be much happier snuggled up at home with you.

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Do dogs really need to wear coats and boots in winter?

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