Dogs are affected by cold weather just as much as people. This is why pet owners who live in areas with extreme winters should always put a coat on their dog before venturing outside, even if your dog enjoys playing in the snow.
Without the proper protective clothing, dogs can develop frostbite or hypothermia. Dog coats should be worn by sick or old dogs, pets recovering from surgery or short-haired dogs. Without a coat for protection, your dog's fur may gather ice balls on the sparse fur under their bellies and nether regions, which may lead to frostbite. Frostbite is hard to notice because it normally develops underneath your pet's fur.
A dog coat lined with insulating polar fleece will preserve your dog's body heat in the cold weather, preventing the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Dog coats range from $19 to $70 online.
Your dog needs a winter coat if:
- he's shivering - the earliest indication a dog is too cold
- you live in an area that experiences extremely cold winters
- he's lethargic and weak during the winter
- he moves more slowly during fall, winter and early spring
- he suffers from arthritis, which affects one in five adult dogs
After winter walks, your dog may develop ice balls between his paws. Be sure to wipe his feet with a damp cloth to remove all chemical salts gathered from the pavement. Road salts can irritate your dog's sensitive paws. Concerned dog owners can purchase winter boots to protect their dog's sensitive paws at most pet supply stores.