When your dog goes out walking he may need protection against wintertime cold. The general rule is: when you put on a topcoat yourself, put a sweater or coat on your dog if he is accustomed to living in a heated house. Of course, when he is let out for a few minutes to scamper around the yard or when he goes for a walk on a mild day he need not be bundled up. But when he is out for any length of time, or walked in cold or wind, he should wear a covering.
Should every dog wear a sweater or coat?
The larger, long haired breeds do not need clothing of any sort, especially when fully grown. By that time their dense undercoat, overlaid with a coarser outer coat, protects the body from the cold. The thin puppy coat, however, is not weather resistant. Therefore, if your pet is still carrying his puppy coat during his first winter, keep him moving outdoors and dry him thoroughly if his hair gets wet. As for the thin skinned, finehaired small breeds kept as house pets, these will need sweaters or coats on cold days.
Pet shops generally stock many different kinds of sweaters and coats for dogs. When choosing one, make sure that it covers the dog’s chest, since this is the area that needs the most protection. Fancy styles that are made of flimsy materials may be pretty to look at but are not much defense against the cold. Raincoats serve a different purpose, of course, and protect the neck and back as well as the chest. These save the owner a lot of work, too, since a dog that is walked uncovered in the rain must be dried thoroughly when he comes in.
Get your puppy used to clothing of some sort while he is young, for you never know when it may be useful. In illness, a housebroken dog often insists upon going outdoors to relieve himself and, at such times, will need extra protection. Be careful when putting on a sweater for the first few times. Don’t frighten the dog by pulling it over his head and ears. Instead, hold the sweater in one hand, then place your other hand through the neck opening and spread it enough to slip over the head gently.