How to Select the Right Dog Coat or Sweater

December 23, 2015

dog coat funkblastBy Laurie Darroch

When your dog needs extra warmth to cope with cold weather, you want to pick the right coat or sweater to do the job correctly. Not all dogs are suited to extremely cold temperatures. The added layer of clothing can be a real help for dogs that are sensitive to cold weather.

A dog that is cold will cuddle against you, burrow under blankets, and may even shiver. Some dogs have plenty of thick over coat and undercoat, but others may have very thin fur and no real undercoat to help keep them warm. Adding a manmade coat may seem silly, but your cold dog will appreciate the extra warmth and be much more comfortable. Here are some tips for choosing the best coat for your dog.

Take Measurements

Dogs obviously vary greatly in size and shape. Getting a coat or sweater that fits correctly and does not cause discomfort is important. Measure your dog around the chest, neck and distance from their neck to their waist, and know their weight before you go shopping.

If the coat is too big they can trip over it, get caught on things, or get tangled up when they move around. If it’s too small, the garment will be uncomfortable and possibly even painful to wear. Knowing your dog’s measurements and weight will help you pick the right size.

Which Style?

Dog coats and sweaters are available in a wide variety of styles and types. You’ll find everything from simple knitted sweaters to luxurious fleece lined suede coats, and many other types. If you just want to keep your dog cozy inside, you may prefer a lighter dog coat sarahsweater style. If your dog will be going outdoors in extremely cold, snowy or windy weather, the thick fully lined coat option may be a better choice.

Shop around to find the best style and type for your particular dog and weather conditions. Be mindful of your dog’s own coat and self-warming capabilities before you rush to buy one simply because it is stylish. Cute designs may look fine, but make sure function and suitability are the primary purposes. Your dog has no fashion sense and doesn’t care what his coat looks like. He only cares how the coat makes him feel.

Special Considerations

If your dog is sensitive to certain types of fabrics or yarns, or allergic, be careful not to get outerwear made of something that will cause itching, sneezing, skin irritation or sores. Some dogs are more sensitive to allergens than others. If you notice them scratching or sneezing after they get their new coat or sweater, try a different fabric.

Check periodically in areas such as the stomach and around the legs to make sure the clothing is not irritating them in some way either by the construction materials or the way it fits.

Pick coats and sweaters that do not have pieces they can easily chew off and ingest such as buttons, hooks or ornamentation. Zippered clothing can also scratch and irritate if it is not assembled correctly or rubs areas.

Choose a coat or sweater that does not hamper normal functions, such as walking or urinating.

If your dog does not like wearing clothing, he will let you know. When you initially put a coat on your dog, offer a tasty CANIDAE treat and a few gentle words of praise while you dress them. That way, they know it is something positive to help them. Once your dog gets used to wearing a coat, they may actually love when “sweater weather” comes along and will eagerly don their attire.

Consider the cleaning options for the coat or sweater you pick. If it is washable or easily cleaned, the upkeep will be more manageable.

dog coat joelFor dogs that are hesitant to go outside in extremely cold or nippy weather, a coat or sweater may make the experience more tolerable for them.

Make sure they are not getting overheated wearing the coat or sweater. Some dogs may only need the help dealing with the weather outside, and be perfectly warm inside without a coat. Take the coat off if they show signs of getting over heated.

Once you find a well made coat in the right style, fabric and fit, your dog is ready to deal with winter and will be warmer and more comfortable!

Top photo by funkblast/Flickr
Middle photo by Sarah Deer/Flickr
Bottom photo by Joel Sowers/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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