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Does Your Dog Need a Sweater in the Winter?

It’s getting cold outside. Time to break out the sweaters for you and me. But have you ever wondered if your dog needs a sweater too? There are a few key points to look at to help you decide if your dog needs a sweater now that it is getting cold. These key points are breed, age, health, size and the temperature. We will take a closer look at each of these points to see how they affect your dog’s need for a sweater. 

Does Your Dog Need a Sweater?

Here are some tips on how to decide

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Breed

Your dog’s breed or breed mix will have a big impact on the type of fur your dog has. Dogs that are bred to work outside in the cold like a Siberian Husky, or Newfoundland have what is called a double coat. Dogs with a double coat have an insulating, thick under coat and a top coat. The two coats combine to protect them from the cold. This allows double coated dogs to stay warmer in the cold as compared to dogs with a single coat. However even double coated dogs can get frostbite or hypothermia in below freezing conditions. It is best to limit their exposure to the extreme cold.

Does Your Dog Need a Sweater? Picture of a dog in red dog sweater.
Sadie – Poodle/Chow Mix – Petfinder.com

Dogs that are bred for warmer climates typically have a single coat. Their fur and body fat tends to be thin. Often they will have short hair. These types of dogs may need a sweater to keep warm in the cold.  This includes breeds like the Chihuahua, the Rat Terrier, the Greyhound and the Whippet.

But what if you don’t know your dog’s breeding.   In general dogs with short fur or low body fat may benefit from wearing a sweater in the cold.  The same thing goes for long haired breeds that are clipped short like a poodle. We used to keep our English Springer Spaniel’s hair short to limit the amount of snow that would cling to her fur.

Age

Your dog’s age can be a factor in whether your dog needs a sweater to stay warm. You may not be surprised to hear that very old dogs have a harder time staying warm in the cold. But you did you know the same can be true for very young puppies?

Health

Your dog’s health can also have an effect on how well they can tolerate the cold. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association; dogs with health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can have a hard time controlling their body temperature. Plus the cold can increase the pain and joint stiffness for dogs with arthritis.

Size

Smaller dogs with less body fat will feel the cold more than large dogs with a lot of body fat. Also dogs that have shorter legs will become cold quicker because their bellies are closer to the cold ground.

Temperature

Of course the temperature plays an important part in deciding if your pup should wear a sweater. If you keep your house fairly warm your pup probably does not need to wear cloths. But if you keep the temperatures low and bundle up yourself to stay warm then you should watch your dog for signs of being cold.

If you plan to take your pup out in the cold for a walk, a winter coat might be required. We use the Shedrow K9 Tundra Dog Coat for our pup when the temperature goes below 40 degrees.

Signs Your Dog is Cold

The best way to decide if your dog needs a sweater is to watch for clues.  If your dog is shaking or shivering, they are cold and in need of immediate warmth.  Also if you find your dog curled up in a tight ball with their legs, tail and nose tucked in tight it means they are trying to stay warm. This is a sign that they might like a sweater or blanket to help keep in the warmth.    

Watch Out for Over Heating

It is important to watch for signs that your dog is too warm wearing clothes. Heavy panting or rapid breathing and drinking water more often can be signs that your dog is too warm. Also dogs will spread themselves out on the floor to try to cool themselves off. My dog loves to cuddle but will get up from time to time to cool off on the floor.

Does Your dog Really Need a Sweater?

Alternative to Sweaters

Some dogs simply do not like wearing clothes and don’t need them all the time. An alternative to clothing is to give your pup a warm blanket and a cozy bed. The bed will keep them off the cold floor and they can move the blanket around to fit their needs. Of course you can always cuddle up together to stay warm on cold nights!

Four west paw big sky dog blankets

West Paw Big Sky Dog Blanket – This soft fleece throw is machine washable and made in the USA. Comes in three sizes to fit your needs. Available at Amazon.com

As an Amazon affiliate I earn a commissions from qualifying purchases.

Happyoodles Dog Sweater Picks

If you’re looking for a unique dog sweater, look for further than the Happiness Hugs Thala Hug Dog Sweater. Made from Yak Yarn this sweater claims to be softer and more sustainable than Cashmere. Plus it features a Tibetan “Khorlo”, or “wheel” pattern, which beautifully represents the wish to walk with our companions for years to come. You can find it at Amazon.com

Dog sweater in red and white from Blueberry Pet

Blueberry Pet – This thick, soft chenille dog sweater is made from 100% polyester for ease care. Available at Amazon.com

XXXL Boyfriend Dog Sweater

Chilly Dog – Boyfriend Dog Sweater – handmade by Inca Artisans in South American. This sweater is 100% wool with plant dyes. Available at Amazon.com

Does you dog need a sweater?  beige sweater on dog

BINGPET Turtleneck Dog Sweater – The beige sweater with brown banding comes your choice of design on the back. Made from soft acrylic to keep your pup warm. Available at Amazon.com

Colorful sweater on gray dog

Baja Ponchos– One of a kind handmade dog ponchos made from an authentic Mexican blanket. Available at Amazon.com

Finding large breed sweaters is often hard to find, but Canada Pooch offers an extra-large breed dog sweater in gray or magenta. You can find it on Amazon.com

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Beth

Friday 15th of November 2019

One of my dogs has a double coat, so she does not need a sweater. My Maltese seems to appreciate one (we try to keep her fur shorter so the snow doesn't overwhelm her) and our Puggle prefers to huddle under a blanket. In extreme cold, he seems happy to wear a fleece coat. I think he might like one of those ponchos.

Bonnie

Friday 15th of November 2019

Yes, it really depends on the dog. When our springer spaniel was gettting older she seemed to like wearing a sweater, but there was no way she would wear one when she was young. Thanks for Commenting!

Ruth Epstein

Friday 15th of November 2019

Baby RIP used to wear sweaters all the time and I used to knit for her, she was a chiweenie, Layla having a lot of fur does not wear sweaters (my Mom even knitted her one) but I do use raincoats

Bonnie

Friday 15th of November 2019

I wish I could knit. I would have a fun time making sweaters for my pup. Maybe a goal for next year. Thanks!