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Canine Health Corner

Does My Dog Need a Sweater?

Close-up of a dressed-up Chihuahua in a winter sceneryWhen temperatures take a nosedive, that often leads to a parade of pooches dressed in their winter finest. But do dogs really need sweaters and coats in winter? The short answer is maybe. Just like humans, dogs naturally create their own body heat; but sometimes that just isn’t enough to keep them warm.

Before you head out sweater shopping, ask these questions:

  • Breed. What type of dog do you have? Some breeds like Chihuahuas have a harder time with cold climates while larger dogs like Siberian Huskies are built for it.
  • Coat. Does your dog have a dense coat? The added insulation that comes with dense fur will often keep dogs plenty warm unlike short, thin or closely cropped coats.
  • Size. Is your pup great or small? Smaller breeds can have a harder time staying warm in cold temps, but remember that larger dogs without much fur can get colder too.
  • Age. Do you have a puppy or a senior dog? Age can play a role in your dog’s immune system and ability to stay warm.
  • Health. Does your dog have any health issues? Some canine health conditions like Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism can affect hair growth; others can make dogs more sensitive to temperature.



The best rule of thumb? Pay attention to your dog. If she seems uncomfortable, is shaking, or does not want to go outside, it is very likely that she is cold and a sweater could help. Even with a sweater or coat, use care and good judgement when exposing dogs to winter conditions. Remember, if it isn’t safe outside for people, it isn’t safe for dogs!

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