Does my dog need a coat in winter? Must know winter dog care

dog running in the snow

As the winter season approaches, we often find ourselves reaching for our warmest outerwear to combat the dropping temperatures. "Does my dog need a coat in winter?" is a common question many pet owners have as the temperature starts to drop.

It generally depends on the breed, size, and age of your dog. Some breeds are naturally equipped with thick fur that can handle colder temperatures, others, especially small or short-haired dogs, might need an extra layer to keep them warm. Puppies and older dogs may also need a coat as they are more susceptible to the cold.

Understanding natural dog coats

Dogs come equipped with their own natural coat of fur, but this doesn't necessarily mean they're immune to the harsh cold weather conditions. The effectiveness of a dog coat in providing warmth and protection from the cold can vary greatly depending on the breed, age, health condition, and size of your canine companion.

Breed and fur type

Some dog breeds are naturally adapted to cold climates and have dense, thick coats that provides excellent insulation. Breeds like the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky, for instance, have fur coats designed genetically to keep them warm even in the colder weather.

However, not all breeds are as lucky. Small, toy, and miniature short-haired breeds, such as Chihuahuas and French Bulldogs, can't generate and retain enough body heat to keep themselves warm on winter walks.

Similarly, lean-bodied breeds with short hair, like Greyhounds and Whippets, and breeds that typically have long hair but are clipped, like Poodles, also need additional protection from the cold.

Age and health conditions

Age and health conditions can also affect a dog's ability to handle cold weather. Senior dogs, puppies, and dogs with certain health conditions are more susceptible to the cold than healthy adult dogs. Heat regulation may decline with age, making even a thick-coated dog uncomfortable in the cold. Similarly, dogs with conditions like arthritis or a weakened immune system may also require a winter coat for additional warmth.

Just like us, our furry friends can encounter unexpected health issues. That's why dog insurance is important to consider. It provides a safety net for unforeseen medical expenses, ensuring you're not caught off-guard by hefty veterinary bills. It's about peace of mind and knowing that you can provide the best possible care for your beloved pet, without having to worry about the cost.

To get a dog insurance quote for your furry friend you can get a quote through our website. If you would like to talk to one of our dog insurance specialists, you can get in touch with us on 0330 102 5748.

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Evaluating the need for winter coats

To determine whether your dog needs a winter coat, consider the following factors:

Weather conditions and temperature

The weather conditions and temperature in your area are among the most important factors to consider. If you live in a region known for its harsh winters, with temperatures often dropping below freezing, dog winter coats can be a great asset.

Even if temperatures aren't typically freezing, factors like wind chill, snow, and rain can make the weather feel colder and more uncomfortable for your dog. In this case, a waterproof winter coat can provide both warmth and protection against the elements.

Dog's behaviour

Your dog's behaviour can provide valuable clues about their comfort level in the cold. If your dog is shivering, lifting their paws up to avoid the cold, or burrowing under a blanket, they may benefit from a winter jacket.

Size and body type

As mentioned earlier, small dogs and lean-bodied breeds often struggle more with cold temperatures than larger, more robust breeds. If your dog falls into one of these categories, a winter jacket is worth considering. If you have recently got a puppy, find our guide on preparing your puppy for its first winter.

Choosing the right winter coat for your dog

Dog standing tall on a mountain rock

Once you've determined that your dog could benefit from a winter coat, the next step is choosing the right one. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Fit and size

The coat should fit your dog snugly without being tight or restrictive. It should extend from the base of the neck to the tail, without being so long that it interferes with your dog's normal activities, like going to the bathroom. Make sure to measure your dog's size before purchasing a winter coat to ensure a good fit to keep the dog warm.


The material of the coat is also important. Look for a coat that is insulated for warmth and, if possible, waterproof to protect against rain and snow. Avoid materials that your dog might be allergic to.

Practicality and comfort

The coat should be easy to put on and take off, and it shouldn't restrict your dog's movement. Avoid coats with unnecessary embellishments that could irritate your dog or pose a choking hazard.

When the temperature drops, it should be easy to put on and take off, fit well, and provide adequate coverage to keep your pup warm. Additionally, it needs to be durable enough to withstand the rough and tumble of doggy play, and preferably waterproof, for those snowy or rainy winter days.

Comfort, on the other hand, is equally important for a dog winter jacket. Imagine wearing an uncomfortable outfit all day; it wouldn't be pleasant, right? The same goes for our pets.

Their winter jacket should be made of soft, non-irritating materials, and should not restrict their movement. The jacket should be lightweight yet insulating, ensuring they remain warm without feeling weighed down.

Style and Design

While functionality should be your primary concern, there's no harm in choosing a coat that is also stylish and matches your dog's personality.

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  • 24/7 vet video consultations
  • Interest free monthly payments