Mother nature has not been kind to the South Shore this winter.  My little terriers shiver when temps drop below 50 degrees! In order for them to entertain a walk, they each have a serious wardrobe of coats to choose from.

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 equipped 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 temps.

Small dogs definitely benefit from extra protection

Because small dogs travel close to the cold ground and generally have lighter fur, they are 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.  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.

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).

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 are terrific for our snowy winters and wet spring weather.

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. Some coats and sweaters are very stylish but very impractical to get your pooch in and out of.

Some of my favorites

I use the Climate Change fleece jacket by Ruff Wear on my terriers either on its own or as a base layer under other winter wear. It washes well and holds its shape year after year.

Schneider’s Saddlery make very durable, waterproof dog coats that I use over a fleece jacket on very cold winter days or on its own for more moderate temps. They hold up for years of use. I also recently purchased the Great White North Winter Dog Coat which I love! The manufacture states it will keep your dogs warm in sub zero temps.

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, you and your pups can enjoy the outdoors right through the coldest and snowiest New England winters!