We get a lot of questions regarding dog coats and their functionality. This article looks to answer the most common questions we have received. There are so many different styles of dog coats from ultra-fashionable to purely practical but what style of dog coat is best for your dog?
Are dog coats good for your dog?
To answer this questions we have gone back to the Animal Welfare Act, this stipulates that your dog should be provided the right environment and conditions for it to be healthy and happy.
This relates directly to dog coats in a number of ways:
- All dogs have differing amounts of fur and different natural habitats (a Saluki is suited to hot climates for example, a Newfoundland likes the cold etc).
- Dogs fur naturally regulates its body temperature, a dog coat can impede the dog’s innate ability to do that.
- There is more danger to a dog being overheated than cold, so this should always be considered when putting on a dog coat.
- Not all dogs like a fashion statement as much as their human owners, a coat can be practical and look good, but its primary function should come first.
Already our readers may be raising eyebrows and asking themselves: why do so many dogs wear dog coats? Well before any of us go off the deep end, it is worth noting that there is a distinct difference between a dog wearing a coat in zero degrees for a thirty-minute walk on the lead vs. a thick coated dog wearing a coat for two hours. Common sense should prevail.
When thinking of breed of dog: short hair small dog may equal need for a coat in winter (terriers, greyhounds etc) vs. large breed lots of hair will never need a coat and could even overheat (St Bernhard and Husky).
Consider weather in the same terms, if it is so cold you find yourself dressing up in a puffer jacket and your dog is shivering then put it in a dog coat. If you find it’s a sunny autumn day and it’s still double digit (Celsius) temperature than think again.
Your dog’s age will also have a bearing on its ability to regulate its own temperature and so older dogs may be more sensitive to the cold.
If you are ever unsure whether you dog needs a coat, then consult your vet.
Are dog coats warm?
Understanding how to check if your dog’s temperature is extremely important particularly in colder climates. The sensitive areas of your dog will show signs first, your dog’s ears and paws are likely to feel the cold earliest. Any sign of limping or unusual walking would be a sign of discomfort around the paws if your dog is cold. Lethargy in your dog can be a sign of it being cold and should be investigated.
If you are really unsure of your dog’s temperature, then you can either use an ear thermometer or a thermometer in the anus. Always apply petroleum jelly first and hold in place for a couple of minutes when using the anal method. Your dog’s temperature should be between 38.3-39.2 degrees C.
There are different types of dog coat on the market and if you require one that offers warmth then product selection is important. In simple terms there are several features that are important on a dog coat:
- Waterproof or not?
- Lined or unlined, with varying linings offering warmth (fleece lined for example)
- Lightweight for rain protection vs. heavier for warmth
If you are looking for warmth, then a fleece lined dog coat should be your choice. If you are in an area where rain is common place, then ensuring you have a rainproof/waterproof coat is of importance as a wet dog is a cold dog.
Are dog coats waterproof?
There are three main categories when considering behaviour towards water and in order of how well they perform (best to worst):
- Waterproof- should protect against all of the elements
- Water Repellent (rainproof) – should stop water coming in when there is a shower but prolonged exposure to water will lead to some water entering the coat
- Water resistant – only really protects against limited exposure to water
If you are planning long expeditions against all the elements, then waterproof would be a must. For everyday normal use in the UK you can get away with water repellent. We would avoid any products which are categorised as water resistant.
Lots to consider when choosing a dog coat before you even decide if it looks nice or not!! If you would like more tips and access to special offers, then sign up to our newsletter here.