I woke up to temperatures in the 20s this morning. BRRRRRRR! Fletch and I both start to shiver when temps drop below 50 degrees! Ignoring my husband’s teasing I layered Fletch in his fleece sweater and added a lightweight jacket on top and off we went for our morning walk. Do dogs really need protection from the cold?

Dogs come equipped with fur which is in essence their own layering system. But a lot of pooches have short, light layers of fur and some are just not genetically well appointed enough to handle the cold winter temperatures of New England. Without an extra level of protection, your light coated dog is probably very uncomfortable in winter temperatures. Probably as uncomfortable as you would be if you went out in the cold in your birthday suit!

Small dogs definitely benefit from extra protection

Because small dogs travel close to the cold ground and generally have lighter fur, they are the most likely to need extra insulation. Short-haired dogs and those that are very lean (think Whippets and Greyhounds) tend to shiver easily, and would most likely appreciate an extra layer of protection.

Large breed dogs are also sensitive to the cold

Even your large breed dog will benefit from a coat if the temperature drops below zero or if he spends a lot of time outdoors in the cold. Obvious exceptions are long haired and double coated breeds who were bred to survive extreme cold temps (Siberian Huskies, Malamutes, Saint Bernards). Senior dogs and puppies as well as dogs recuperating from illness and injury are more sensitive to frigid temps and would benefit from a dog coat this winter.

What Cold Weather Gear Should You Buy for Your Pet?

Just like winter wear for humans, dog coats and sweaters come in a variety of styles and materials (fleece, polyester knits, wool). Water resistant fabrics (think parkas for humans) are great if you live in a snowy area. I also like water proof rain coats for the rainy New England spring season.

An ideal fitting dog coat or sweater should fit snugly and cover your dog’s chest and stomach and extend to the base of the tail, keeping legs free for walking, running, and toileting. I personally like dog coats with hind leg straps to keep the back of the coat in place. If it’s possible, try the coat on your dog to make sure it fits him properly. It’s also important to ensure it’s easy to get on and off. Fletch has an Irish knit wool sweater that is adorably cute and warm, but very impractical to get him in and out of!

Here are some of my favorites:

I use this fleece jacket on Fletch both on its own or as a base layer under other dog coats. I’ve owned it for 5 plus years and it’s still in great shape and washes very well:

Climate Changer Fleece Jacket

This durable and water resistant coat is made by the same company that makes the blankets I buy for my horse! The price is rather inexpensive compared to many other dog coat brands. I use this on it’s own or over the fleece base layer on very cold days:

Dura Tech Insulated Waterproof Dog Coat

I’ve heard great things about this coat and am considering adding it to Fletch’s wardrobe this winter. The manufacture states it keeps dogs warm down to -14 degrees Fahrenheit!

Great White North Winter Dog Coat

There is an unlimited selection of dog coats in boundless styles and functionality. Remember, dog coats and sweaters are not just for fun, for many of our furry friends, they are a necessity in the cold weather. With the right cold weather gear, Fletch and I enjoy our early morning hikes right through the coldest and snowiest New England winters!