The Dog Coat: Cozy Canine Climate Control

Fall is Here! And we in Seattle are preparing ourselves for the colder, wetter weather to come! PugetPets dog-walking professionals and our clients alike know that sometimes our pooches need some extra preparation, too. All dogs come with a coat, but sometimes our family canines need a dog coat only we can provide.

Dress-me Up Doggie?

Dogs being furry critters, some people balk at the idea of putting clothes on them. On the other hand, some folks like to dress up their pup for style and fun. Whether you follow the latest canine fashion or take a “clothing optional” approach, it helps to know when your dog really should wear a coat. The simple answer is when he or she is cold. Consider your dog’s breed. Not all breeds will need the extra warmth. Your Siberian Husky finds our Seattle winters a relief. Shorter haired and smaller breeds will have different needs. It’s important to remember that some breeds were developed for suitability to warmer and/or dryer climates. Your ridgeback or chihuahua may well benefit from a sweater or dog coat this fall. So keep your dog warm if necessary, but no matter how cute the coat, be careful not to overdress a thick-coated breed, as this can cause overheating and discomfort to your pup.

Chilly Dogs?

How do you know if your dog is cold? One good way to tell if your dog is cold is to feel the dog’s ears. Touch the tips of the ears, in particular. If they are not warm, chances are neither is your dog. If your dog is very cold, he or she will shiver to raise internal body temperature, just as you and I would. If your dog is shivering in cooler weather and does not seem to be frightened, a dog coat is in order! Finally, if your dog refuses to go out in cold or rainy conditions, it’s likely time to buy a dog coat.

Choosing the Best Dog Coat

Off the rack, the dog coat comes in many forms, from cute knit sweaters for the urban stroll to hardcore waterproofing for rain or water sports, and even down jackets for the cold-season backcountry. With so many varieties of dog coat on the market, how do you decide what is best for your dog? If you’ve determined that your dog could benefit from some extra warmth this fall and winter, one important factor to consider is your dog’s activity level. A dog that is exercising hard needs less additional warmth than one who is sedentary or going on leisurely walks. You’ll also want to consider the specific types of conditions your dog will be exposed to. Long walks on rainy, windswept beaches might require more insulation and waterproofing than a quick stroll in the neighborhood. If your dog accompanies you for winter sports or snow-camping activities, you may need an even warmer dog coat to ensure his or her maximum comfort.

Dog Coat Brands to Buy

Some of the top dog coat manufacturers include Oregon-based RuffWear, which specializes in active-wear for the outdoor-adventuring dog. RuffWear makes a dog coat for every need, ranging from lightweight breathable fleece to full-body shells with foreleg sleeves that offer the warmth of synthetic insulation with the range of motion of technical stretch fabric.

Finnish dog coat company Hurtta offers canine apparel for the serious outdoor enthusiast. Hurtta makes a wide range of dog coat options, including more than one style of complete insulated four-legged suit or “overall” for severe winter conditions. Hurtta provides lots of helpful information on sizing, including several short and practical videos on fitting their products, so you can be sure to get the right size and optimal fit for your wilderness-ready dog.

Outdoor enthusiasts and urban adventurers alike can outfit their dogs with warm and waterproof products from these companies and many others, such as Kurgo, a company specializing in cold-weather wear for active dogs, and Alpine Outfitters, whose dog coat business started with providing for the needs of working dogs, including sled dog teams. If you’re more in the cosmopolitan fashion-hound category and have a smaller and/or less active dog who could still use a warm, snuggly vest on cold winter days, Chilly Dog Sweaters has the practical fashion accessory for your pooch.

Finding the right dog coat can be a challenge for dog guardians with unusually shaped breeds. If you can’t find the perfect dog coat for your great Dane, basset, dachshund or Frenchie, Foggy Mountain Dog Coats may be able to help. Other companies that cater to a variety of breed shapes include Canada’s Chilly Dogs (not the same as Chilly Dog Sweaters), for outdoor active wear, and Wisconsin-based Blue Willow Dog Coats. Blue Willow has the distinction of creating unique, custom-made weatherproof dog coats for all breeds.

A standard dog coat usually covers predominately the back, leaving the much of the rump, chest and neck exposed. Blue Willow coats have the advantage of full-coverage features. You can order their signature adjustable “turtle-neck” design, or if your dog can’t stand having something put over his or her face, you can order an ample turn-back collar. Either way, dogs’ critical neck and chest areas are sure to stay warm. These options make the Blue Willow dog coat design great for slight, short-haired and/or long-necked breeds, so look no further for your shivering greyhound or whippet! Blue Willow coats are custom-made to your dog’s measurements and are reasonably priced for a custom product. The company also makes an adorable “pita bed,” a plush, pocket-style bed in any size you want, for dogs (or cats!) who love to burrow and snuggle.

Bundle Up!

With autumn on the approach, PugetPets encourages you to “bundle up!” And if your dog wasn’t born with a thick winter coat, consider buying a dog coat that will keep her or him toasty and comfortable throughout the wet, chilly Seattle fall and winter and into our city’s next rainy spring!