Ask Doctor Dog: Are Dog Sweaters Worth Buying?
When cold weather hits, people don't think twice about bundling up in warm sweaters and coats. While animals were made to tolerate the great outdoors, domesticated pets aren't exactly as tough as their wild ancestors.
Is bundling them up in a dog sweater silly or necessary? Doctor Dog has enough fur to keep out the cold, but she has the answer on outerwear for smaller, less fluffy fellow canines.
You can ask me any questions whenever you want. Then look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets.
The Question: Do Dogs Actually Need Clothes?
Dear Doctor Dog,
Reaching out on behalf of my whippet, Pineapple. She's eight years old, but I only adopted her last summer. When cooler weather kicked in last fall, I noticed her shivering, so I bought her a sweater. She now has a large collection of sweaters, plus a few raincoats for wet weather.
I've gotten a few comments from family members saying that I'm treating a dog like a person, and that dogs were built to handle the weather. She seems more comfortable to me, so who's right?
–Christopher Doyle and a sweater-loving Pineappple, from Middletown, Rhode Island
Doctor Dog's Answer: If Your Dog Seems Cold, They Probably Are
Dear Christopher and Pineapple,
In a way, both sides are right. Dogs were originally built to live outside and withstand the elements, but that was a long, long time ago. Wolves were well-adapted to cold temperatures, but dogs were selectively bred for a number of purposes.
Some breeds, like huskies and Alaskan malamutes, were bred to pull sleds and carry packs in the arctic. As husky owners can attest to, they adore the snow. Breeds that were designed to be companion animals, not so much.
Most small dogs are poorly adapted to cold climates. They just don't have the body mass to retain enough heat. Short-furred large breeds, or dogs who are elderly or ill, also tend to get cold in the winter.
As a rule of thumb, medium and large dogs with thick, dense coats don't need sweaters, while small dogs and those with fine coats can use the extra insulation. And if Pineapple is shivering, that's a sure sign that bundling her up in a fleecy sweater is exactly what she wants.
She probably doesn't need a sweater inside, but it's a good idea while she's out on walks in weather under 50 degrees. Raincoats are also a wise option, and dog boots can protect their paws from abrasive salted roads in winter.
Thanks for being a conscientious pet owner. I'm sure Pineapple appreciates it, and her collection of sweaters.
– Doctor Dog
More Infurmation About Cold-Weather Clothing for Dogs
I'm just a dog, so if you'd like some additional expert advice about choosing the right cold-weather gear for your canine, check out the video below.
Have a Question for Doctor Dog?
Leave any questions for me, and look for my responses in my Dear Doctor Dog advice column on Always Pets. Have questions about cats, bunnies, hamsters or any other critters? Shoot! I may be a dog myself, but I'm here to help all your animal companions, whether they have four legs or fins.
Important reminder: Doctor Dog is happy to provide general pet care guidance, but she cannot provide formal medical recommendations or diagnoses for your pet. Your pet's veterinarian should always be your primary resource for serious questions regarding your pet's health.