Now that the mercury has plunged and Mother Nature has us in her wintry grasp, when is it appropriate or necessary to clothe your dog in winter wear? The all-encompassing answer to this conundrum is “depends on the dog”.
Before expanding on this, let’s look at dogs who shed their coats and those that don’t. For those dogs who do shed, unless there is a medical issue, the reason they shed in the first place is to allow the new coat to grow through. The thickness of the new coat will vary by season as determined by the dog’s DNA. For dogs that don’t shed, they are reliant on grooming to maintain a healthy coat. This is where us humans need to make sensible decisions as to the amount and type of grooming our dogs should have, whether in the heat of summer or in winter’s icy grip.
So back to the question of winter wear or not. Some breeds, such as Great Pyrenees or Newfoundlands, absolutely can’t wait for colder temperatures to arrive. Originating in colder climates and built for outdoor work, their coats are suited to cold weather. Depending on the amount of de-icing salt that they walk on may determine whether booties would be appropriate. For breeds, such as Chihuahuas or short haired terriers that originate in warmer climates, help is likely going to be needed to keep them warm during the colder weather. I don’t feel that dogs need to be dressed up at the first hint of cooler weather as Mother Nature has already given them an outer layer and you don’t want your dog dehydrating because it’s too hot for them. Having said that, you know your dog(s) better than anyone so let common sense decide.
When it comes to booties, I would suggest buying them well in advance of winter so your dog can get use to the feel of wearing something over it’s paws before it needs to wear them. This can take time with some dogs as the feeling of having something artificial covering it’s paws is alien to them. The same can be said of dogs’ jackets but to a lesser extent. When putting either booties or a jackets on your dog, make sure they are a snug fit without being too tight. Don’t forget your dog is still going to want to run and breathe properly even though dressed for winter.
I have always been of the opinion that function is way more important than style when it comes to your dog’s well-being so, when buying booties or a jacket for your dog, check out how effective the apparel is at keeping your dog warm rather than how much bling is sewn into it. Also, let’s not forget that jackets’ style and size must allow the dog to pee and defecate as per normal.
I wish you and your dog(s) a snug and warm winter dog walking!