Dressing Your Pet for Fall’s Chilly Weather

dressing your pet

Have you seen dogs dressed up for Halloween, or even just a day out on the town, and smiled at the absurdity? You may have thought to yourself, “I’m glad my dog doesn’t look that silly.” Well, it might be time to rethink your position on dressing your pet.

Even though your pet probably already wears a fur coat, she might appreciate an extra layer of protection from winter’s bitter cold. She might even like one during fall’s increasingly chilly weather. And if she’s a hairless pet, she’ll definitely need you to provide her with some warm clothing!

Signs that your pet may need a sweater or coat are shivering, reluctance to go outside, and sleeping curled into a tight ball. If you and other family members routinely wear sweaters in the house, maybe your pet should, too!

Dressing your pet

When choosing a sweater or coat for your pet, you’ll need to take several factors into consideration. The first, and possibly most important, factor is size. Clothing that doesn’t fit properly can be dangerous for dressing your pet! If it’s dragging on the ground he could trip on it and possibly injure himself. It could also get caught on something and choke him. A coat that covers his bare tummy provides protection from splashing slush but could get drenched when he does his business. These are all things to bear in mind when choosing a dog coat.

While you’re at it, consider adding dog boots to the shopping list. They’ll not only protect her feet from painful ice and possibly frostbite but also burns from ice melt chemicals or salt.

Getting the measurements right

It shouldn’t be too loose but you also don’t want to struggle when dressing your pet if it’s too tight. It should be comfortably snug. Manufacturers vary in how they label coat sizes. A small from one maker might be a medium from another. Always measure your dog according to the instructions given by the maker of the coat you’ve selected. Start by weighing your dog to help narrow down your choices. Generally, you’ll measure around your dog’s barrel (the deepest part of the chest), the thickest part of the neck, and from the base of the neck to the waist.

Finding a coat to fit a dog with an unusual body shape can often be more difficult than actually dressing your pet. Most coats aren’t made to fit the deep chest of a Boxer, the thick neck of a Bulldog, or the extended length of a Dachshund! Fortunately, this dog walker has rounded up some brands of coats that fit her own uniquely shaped dogs. And the Hefty Hounds company specializes in “larger and hard to fit dogs”!

Choosing the right material

Also, consider the material used. Wool is warm and can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water before feeling wet. However, it might cause itching in some pets and can be difficult to launder. A washable wool blend might be a better choice for dressing your pet in. If you live in an area where freezing rain or sleet is common, choose a coat that’s waterproof. A windproof jacket is particularly important in areas with frequent high winds and dangerous wind chills.

A coat will need frequent laundering if it’s exposed to mud, slush, and toxic de-icers. For this reason, choose one that’s easy to launder and durable. Even better – choose two! Having a spare coat is handy on laundry day and adds versatility if it’s a different type. A lighter coat may be perfect for those chilly fall days or even an occasional warmer day in winter.

Watch out for parts that can potentially be pulled off and swallowed. These might include buttons, zipper tabs, leash rings, labels, etc. Just remember – if it can be pulled off, some dog somewhere has probably tried eating it!

Dogs that should wear a coat:

  • Toy breeds and mixes are too small to generate enough body heat to keep themselves warm in cold conditions. They may even need a sweater inside a cool house.
  • Hairless or mostly hairless pets will likely also need a sweater inside and a coat outside. If you live in an area with really cold weather, you may want to provide a ‘doggy potty‘ inside your home.
  • Dogs with very short hair or especially thin coats (like Italian Greyhounds, Whippets, and Miniature Pinschers) also need some extra protection. Many of these breeds originated in mild to extremely warm climates and have the naturally lightweight coats to prove it!
  • Dogs with shaved or partially shaved coats. A Poodle in a show clip, a terrier that’s recently had his coat stripped, or a dog whose coat was clipped for the summer will probably enjoy a sweater or jacket, at least until her coat has grown out.
  • Short-legged dogs like Basset Hounds, Corgis, and Dachshunds that are closer to the snow because of their low-slung undercarriages.
  • Dogs that are naturally thin and don’t have the body reserves to keep themselves warm.
  • Older dogs, like older people, tend to crave warmth. They may no longer have the insulating layers of fat that they had when they were younger. They also have a harder time regulating their body temperature.
  • Sick or injured dogs need extra warmth so that their energy goes towards getting better rather than just staying warm.
  • Dogs with chronic illnesses or a weakened immune system can use the extra warmth and comfort a sweater or coat supplies.
  • Dogs with joint problems or arthritis will thank you for keeping their aching joints protected from the wind and warm.

Of course, not all dogs need a coat. If you have a medium to large dog with a thick coat who is very active, a coat may just slow her down. It could even cause her to overheat!

Dogs that should not wear a coat:

  • Any of the sledding breeds like Huskies, Malamutes, or Samoyeds. These dogs were bred to run for miles in the most brutal cold imaginable. They are naturally well-equipped to handle cold weather and would be very uncomfortable in a coat.
  • Large dogs with heavy coats. A Newfoundland or Saint Bernard has his own heavy coat keeping him warm. If you add another coat, he could easily become dangerously overheated.

When deciding whether you should be dressing your pet, consider the weather (including wind chill) and activity level. A dog going for a brisk walk on a cold, but windless, day doesn’t need as much protection as a dog going for a sedate stroll or a one facing a bitter wind chill. If in doubt, add the coat but keep an eye on your pet. If he’s panting, place your hand under the coat to see how hot your pet is and remove the coat if necessary.

Now that your pet is ready for cooler weather, get ready for some rousing games of fetch – using snowballs! Your dog won’t mind because she’s dressed for the weather!

Contact us for more information about keeping your pet healthy and safe during the colder weather to come. Our amazing staff is always looking for ways to make your pet’s life better.

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Ashley Farrer
Ashley Farrer
posted 2 weeks ago

Honestly they were wonderful, they were very nice and caring and took very good care of my baby. They also made sure I understood what was going on. Even after everything they let me call and answered any questions or concerns that I had until I felt better as well.

Judy Bayes
Judy Bayes
posted 3 months ago

Highly recommend!!!
Annie, my Golden Retriever Mix, is not a patient there, but got both her Flu vaccines at Tipp City Vet.
The First one, was at their drive up clinic and the second one at their office.
Both were fantastic experiences! The staff (Dr Jim Mathias, the Vet Techs, and Front office) were all super friendly, professional, and great with Annie! And they were very accommodating too, as I had to change my appointment a few times, in order to fit my ever changing schedule.
If I didn’t already have a vet that I love, and am very loyal to; I would definitely make the 30 minute drive to their office!

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Mike Quakenbush
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Lena Kellerman
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I really like this place. The staff is always really friendly and willing to help with any questions or concerns I have. I usually see Dr. Ken and he treats my cats nice even if my cats don't lol. I just had to take one cat in due to constipation twice in a year. We got out in roughly an hour and they gave me a list of things to try without spending a lot of money.

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