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Do Dogs Need Sweaters in Winter?

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Do Dogs Need Sweaters in Winter?

Do dogs need clothes? While this may at first appear to be a light concern to those who would scoff at the idea of dressing a dog, there are still many dog owners who have seen their dogs shiver violently after exposure to winter temperatures but hesitate to put clothing on their dogs for fear of appearing odd. Well, have no fear. If you are concerned about your dog being cold, there is certainly no harm in putting clothing on him.

If you are still on the fence, consider this: Sure, dogs come equipped with their own external layering system, but some dogs have lighter layers of fur than others, and some are not genetically suited to the environments in which they find themselves transplanted. So your dog may in fact be extremely uncomfortable with the winter temperatures — as uncomfortable as you would be if you went outside without clothing.

Does Your Dog Need Clothes?

A sweater or jacket can be helpful during the cold seasons, especially if your dog is reluctant to go outside in the snow to relieve himself, but also if you tend to keep your home’s internal heating system set low, depending instead on blankets and sweaters for your human occupants.

How warm your dog is able to physically keep himself may depend on his breed, size and even age, but if he just doesn’t have a heavy hair coat, there is only so much curling up he can do to conserve heat. Smaller, light bodied breeds, toy breeds, and breeds that naturally have very short or thin hair coats benefit from a warm dog sweater for when they need to go outside, or for just hanging around the house. A sweater can make a significant difference in your dog’s feeling of well-being.

Image source: Emery_Way / via Flickr

Next: Finding a good sweater

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Nicolas, selected from petMD

petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit petMD.com.

239 comments

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6:44PM PST on Jan 15, 2014

Thank you for this article. My husband makes fun of my putting a coat on our 8 year old, 13lb. dachshund / Chihuahua mix when she goes out on the coldest winter days. His comment is "but she's wearing a fur coat". My reply is that he also has a "fur" coat but I don't make him go outside without an extra coat ;-} !

Even with a coat she makes very short work of her "potty break" especially this winter when it's been unusually cold.

9:37AM PST on Jan 8, 2014

Cool stuff

7:37AM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

animals in clothes seems ridiculous. really

10:12AM PDT on Oct 22, 2012

Yes especially if they are going out for a walk or to play!! My pit bulls are sold muscle & they get cold & yes, they wear boots because their feet tend to get cold faster obviously.

10:39AM PDT on Oct 21, 2012

I have to say that this article covered this issue well. If you own a small toy breed dog and live in central Canada in the winter, you will understand the need for a doggie sweater or jacket. My dog is a chihuahua cross, genetically meant for the hot weather in Mexico. She loves the heat and loves to sunbath. During the colder months, she shivers from the cold, even in the house. My dog will sleep under the blankets, on my bed, to keep warm, so, it only seems reasonable to say that she does need a sweater to brave the winter elements outside. Come -20 Celsius, if there is snow or ice, my dog can no longer walk on the ground...This is when the boots come out, either that or she remains indoors and suffers without her beloved daily walks. When -30 Celsius hits, if she wants to go out for a walk, she gets bundled up in full on winter snow gear, just like I would with a child. There is nothing cruel about keeping your children dressed warm for the winter, why is it considered cruel to dress a breed of dog who isn't built for this kind of climate?

12:41PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

3:26PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

I think it terrible to put clothes on dogs! My bigger dogs need no coats and the smaller only stay out for a short while .. first sign of a shiver they are back inside ...

2:34PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Mrs S. i agree with you...

8:00AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Unless they really need it, dont make them suffer ;)

2:24PM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

It depends on the climate and the dog. It gets very cold here in winter and most people get little, short-haired dogs some protection. A big husky revels in the cold.

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