When the weather’s cold, does your dog really need a sweater and booties to protect them from the elements? The answer is sometimes. Here are a few winter doggie facts, courtesy of TheSlate.com.
- First: Some dogs are bred to handle cold weather. For example, Labradors and Newfoundlands grow thicker winter fur for added insulation, and can stay warm even while swimming in icy water. However, smaller dogs with short hair have hardly any insulation or body mass, and can lose heat quickly. Bottom line: Greyhounds and Chihuahuas will never be comfortable in winter weather, but they’ll be warmer in a snug-fitting sweater or coat – especially if it has a waterproof coating. Don’t waste your money on Gore-Tex. Dogs don’t perspire through their skin the way humans do, so they don’t need clothing that lets moisture out.
- Know this: Not all dogs bred for cold climates can stay warm in the winter. Professional mushers test potential sled-dogs by having them spend the night in a bed of snow. If the snow underneath them melts, it means their fur isn’t insulating enough, and they won’t make a good sled dog. So, it’s smart to “winterize” all breeds of dog.
- First, if they’re lean to begin with, let them gain a pound or two in the fall and winter. Extra body fat can help shield them from the cold, especially if they’re small.
- After a snowstorm, you might want to slap on a set of booties, like those worn by Iditarod sled dogs. They keep snow and ice from building up between their footpads, and rubbing their feet raw, and keep any cuts and scrapes from being irritated by bacteria and road salt.
- Beware: If your dog is sick, old, or recently had puppies, they can be especially vulnerable to the cold. Most dogs are at risk from frostbite on the tips of their ears and tail – areas that don’t get a lot of circulation. So don’t keep them outside in freezing weather. If your a dog shivers furiously, then stops abruptly, get them inside and warm immediately, because that’s a sign they’re in serious danger of freezing to death.