Just like people, dogs can feel the cold, too. We can bundle up and wear several layers, but dogs can’t pull on several jumpers to keep warm. So, you might be wondering, “do dogs need coats during winter in the UK?” The answer is yes.
Yes, some dogs need to wear coats during the winter, but not aLL dogs require this added protection. The dogs that will benefit from winter jackets are often in one of the following categories: short-coated, hairless, have short noses, are close to the ground, have been clipped or shorn, have underlying health conditions, or are puppies or seniors. To see if your dog requires a winter coat, keep reading.
Although many dog breeds are well-equipped to deal with cold weather, some dogs require a little help to keep toasty and warm during the cold months, especially on long walks. A dog coat should be practical, keeping the dog warm and dry, instead of fashionable.
Choosing a waterproof, insulated coat that fits your dog’s body is best. Before you do this, however, let’s look at the issue of winter coats for dogs in the UK more closely.
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Which dogs require coats in cold weather?
Not all dogs will need a coat when walking outdoors during cold winter days; these dogs have likely been bred to survive in cold conditions, like Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes. All dogs, even those with thick fur, should be monitored outdoors in colder weather.
But some dogs are more vulnerable to the cold than others; these canines include those that are young, senior, underweight, or unwell, as well as certain breeds.
So, does your dog need a coat in the winter? Let’s look at the categories below:
Small dogs with short coats
Small breeds will need the extra layer a winter coat can provide if they have short or thin fur. The length of a dog’s coat can affect body temperature; a short or thin coat will cause loss of body heat, while a thick coat keeps the dog warm.
Some small, short-haired dogs that might need a jacket include:
- Jack Russels
- Yorkshire Terriers
Large dogs with short coats
Even a fit and healthy dog can struggle to keep warm if it is cold outside. Many large breeds have short coats, meaning they will require a coat when heading outside in colder weather.
Large breeds that might require a coat include:
Hairless breeds, such as Chinese Crested Dogs and Peruvian Inca Orchids, are especially vulnerable to the cold. As a result, they need to be kitted out with a warm coat if they are heading outdoors.
These breeds often require more attention than others, so you should ensure they are kept warm, comfortable, and dry when venturing outside.
A hairless dog’s skin can become irritated in the cold, so a winter coat can protect them a little more. These breeds could also wear a coat indoors if the house is cooler, but this isn’t always necessary.
Dogs with short noses
Dog breeds with short noses, such as pugs and French bulldogs, may require a coat in winter because they have difficulty regulating their body temperature.
Dogs that sit low to the ground
Short-legged dogs often find their bellies closer to the ground; this can mean they feel the cold more than other dogs. A dog’s belly is often where they lose the most heat, so a coat can make a difference.
Some breeds that sit low to the ground include:
- Welsh Pembroke Corgis
Dogs that are clipped or shorn
Breeds, like Poodles, that have been clipped or shorn will naturally have less fur than before. Even if the dog is a breed that can handle cold weather, the lack of fur may mean they will require a coat during the winter months.
In addition, breeds that have been clipped or shorn for medical reasons may also require a coat in the winter.
Puppies and senior dogs
Due to their smaller bodies, puppies of any breed can struggle with colder conditions. Their lack of body fat and thick fur can mean they shiver more and struggle to keep warm. Another reason why puppies need extra warmth is that they, like short-legged breeds, are closer to the ground.
Older dogs can also struggle in the cold, particularly if they have health issues or thinned fur. As dogs age, they can also lose fat, which means they will get cold faster. A coat can offer an extra layer to protect them during winter walks when the temperature drops.
Dogs with underlying health conditions
For canines with medical conditions, such as arthritis, the cold can worsen their symptoms. Their joints can become stiff and tighten up, making walking difficult at times. Even if your dog is a breed that can tolerate the cold, a coat can provide an extra layer of warmth and protection if their health is compromised. Watching your dog’s body language can help you determine whether they would benefit from a coat; lifting paws, refusing to walk, and shivering are all signs of a dog feeling cold.
What types of dog coats are available?
Several types of dog coats are available in pet stores and online. Some are multipurpose for dogs that are taken on long walks in wind, rain, and shine, while others can be considered raincoats for their waterproof features. High visibility – or hi-vis – jackets might be a better option for dogs walking during the early mornings or late at night.
But when it comes to buying a coat for your dog, there are a few key factors to consider; these include the style, size, and material of the coat.
Most coats fit over the head and tie around the body and belly. This style of coat is suitable for most breeds and body types.
However, some coats come with a zip, which can be easier to put on and remove. This is especially useful for larger breeds and older dogs; the dog can step into their winter jacket and have it pulled over their legs to be zipped along their back.
Coats come in various sizes, so you must make sure you choose the right one for your dog.
A coat should fit snugly around the chest and neck but not be so tight that it restricts the dog’s ability to move or breathe.
Most winter dog coats are made from synthetic materials, such as polyester, nylon, and fleece. These materials are lightweight, breathable, and provide extra protection from wet weather and low temperatures.
If you want to be extra sure your dog is kept warm, you might want to consider a winter coat lined with wool, which is a natural insulator.
Dog boots are also an option. These can protect your dog’s paws from grit and salt on pathways; some dogs may lick the grit off their paws after a walk, leading to an upset stomach.
When should dogs wear coats?
Although coats are more useful during winter, dogs might need to wear an extra layer at other times of the year. Two main aspects dog owners should pay attention to are the temperature outside and the length of time the dog will spend outdoors.
When the temperature drops to 0 degrees Celsius or below, a dog should wear a coat. Temperatures as low as this are often experienced in the winter months, but it can also get this cold during the late autumn and early spring. By wearing a coat, a dog will be protected from feeling the cold on walks.
If dogs only outside for short periods, such as 10 minutes or less, they do not require a jacket as the cold weather should not affect them too much. However, a coat might be useful if your dog begins to display signs of discomfort.
Tips on measuring your dog for a winter coat
Buying a dog coat that fits your dog perfectly is essential; as previously mentioned, your dog should be able to move freely in its jacket. It shouldn’t limit its ability to walk, run, jump, or relieve itself.
Most pet stores or online shops can provide instructions on measuring your dog, but it can be stressful if you aren’t prepared. Your dog needs to stay relatively still, so although you can measure your dog for a coat yourself, it is best to get help from a friend or family member.
First, you will need a tape measure, and it is best to measure your dog while they are standing.
To measure their neck, wrap the tape measure around their neck (usually where the dog’s collar sits) and make a note of the measurement in inches.
Then, measure the girth by wrapping the tape measure around the widest part of their chest.
Finally, measure the length by starting at the neck’s base and going down to the tail’s base.
Once you have these measurements, you can compare them to the size chart of the coat you have chosen. If your dog’s breed has tricky measurements, like long bodies and short legs, there are online stores that have various breed options, like Equafleece.
To Sum Up
If your dog falls into one of the categories mentioned in this post, then the answer to “do dogs need coats during winter in the UK?” is yes; they will likely need to wear a coat outside during the winter months. Dog coats are designed to keep your pooch warm and dry when outside, so choosing the right one for your dog is essential.
There are several different types of dog coats on the market, so it might not be the easiest choice. By considering your dog’s activity levels and the weather you might experience in the UK, selecting the most suitable coat for your pooch will be easier.