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Should Your Dog Wear a Coat Outdoors?

dog wearing a red raincoat

Bundling up for the cold

When the weather outside is frightful, we humans don’t venture out without bundling up in a warm coat. If you’re heading out to walk your dog, you might wonder if they need a coat as well. The answer is that it really depends. Several factors are involved, such as your dog’s breed, age, how long you’ll be out, and the outside temperature. 

If you’re just going out for a short potty break, your dog shouldn’t need a coat unless you’re experiencing sub-zero temperatures. For longer trips outside, the variables mentioned come into play. In general, if the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) a coat can be a good idea. 

Not every dog needs the extra warmth.

Still, not every dog needs to put on a winter coat. Dogs with a thick haircoat, such as Huskies, Malamutes, St. Bernard’s, Keeshonds, and American Eskimos (to name a few) are able to handle most winter weather. 

Dogs with short or thin fur, thin body frames, puppies, senior dogs, and breeds that originate from a warm climate can benefit from a coat when it’s cold out. So can dogs with short legs (think Corgis or Basset Hounds), as their bellies are low to the ground and a coat can protect them from snow and ice.

dog with snow on its nose and wearing a red coat

As well as checking the thermometer or weather report, look for cues that your dog is too cold outside. Are they reluctant to go out? Shivering our hunched up outside? 

Are dog coats cruel?

Is it cruel to put a coat on your dog? Most likely not, as long as it fits well, is functional and breathable, and they can carry out their normal activities with ease. Dressing a dog in a coat when their fur doesn’t warrant it could potentially be harmful, but if your pup fits the characteristics mentioned earlier, do keep them warm. 

Many different brands and styles of dog sweaters and coats are available, make sure you’re getting the right fit and thickness for your dog’s needs. Look for something waterproof if you’ll be out in snow, so your dog stays dry. Once you’re all set with the right coat, enjoy the winter wonderland and let it snow! 

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