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The Ultimate Dog Coat Guide

Nov 11, 2023

The Ultimate Dog Coat Guide

As the weather starts to cool down, you may start wondering whether your dog needs a coat, what type, and how to make sure you choose the right dog coat.

For some, a decent dog coat is an absolute essential, but some dogs are stressed by wearing a coat and there is also the risk of overheating in high intensity activity.
We dived a little deeper into the topic to bring you everything you need to know about dog coats as winter takes hold of the UK!

 

Does My Dog Need a Coat?

Before decided whether your dog should wear a coat at all, in addition to the obvious consideration of your local climate, there are several more factors to take into account:

1. Your dog’s age and health

Puppies and elderly dogs are much more likely to feel the cold than other dogs. Likewise, certain health conditions, such as arthritis are exacerbated by cold weather and a coat will provide a welcome relief to dogs who suffer from it. If your dog is in one of these categories, it may be time to consider getting them an extra layer!

2. Breed

We don’t like to state the obvious, but please don’t put your Husky or Malamute in a fleece! All joking aside, there are obviously some breeds who will cope without a coat just fine in the majority of weather and it’s not just your traditional Northern breeds- generally speaking large breeds with double coats will rarely need a coat. However, small dogs have a larger surface area to body weight ratio and therefore will be much more likely to need one, especially if they are very short coated.
Short-legged dogs are in contact with the cold ground much more, so also consider this. Dogs with a naturally very low body fat and short coats such as Whippets also feel the cold much more readily.

3. Activity

For active dogs like ours, it’s really important to keep their muscles warm and let them cool down gradually after strenuous exercise like sports training. Putting a coat on your dog beforehand can help warm your dog up, and a cozy jacket after a big workout can optimise lactate clearance, meaning your dog is less sore and prone to injury. On the other end of the spectrum, older dog who walk slowly and don’t move around much on their walks will naturally be colder, so these dogs will
also benefit from a coat.

Dog is wearing a fleece dog coat

Fleece coat for colder days

Dog Coat Types

Now you know whether you should consider buying a coat for your dog, let’s have a look at the different types of coat. The most importance thing is you get a well-fitting, non-restrictive coat which allows free movement for your dog’s entire body. We will look more into fitting later in this article but firstly we will outline the main types as they have slightly different functions. Over our careers we have both come across different brands, and know some are better than others. We’ve highlighted our favourite brands in each category below.

1. Raincoats & Insulated Coats

Insulated coat for cold walks

Waterproof coats do exactly what they say on the tin- they keep your dog dry when it’s raining! For many dogs this keeps them much more comfortable in wet weather, and for their humans it makes the post-walk cleaning & drying process much easier! Some waterproof coats are also insulating, with a layer of fleece or similar material under the waterproof membrane. As raincoats tend to be worn in the darker months, you may wish to consider reflective materials and bright colours when choosing.
Getting a decent, breathable waterproof coat is essential so your dog doesn’t overheat. Generally, waterproof and insulated coats are good for low-medium activity like walks in the park. High-impact activity in an insulated coat may cause over-heating.
Pomppa jackets are very high quality, come in loads of different sizes and lots of colourful options if you’d like your dog to stand out.
Weatherbeeta is another go-to brand for waterproof raincoats. They are easy to put on and unlikely many waterproof coats, they don’t slide around too much when your dog is running around.

 

2. Fleece Coats & Sweaters

Leg cover keeps your dog cleaner

Fleece coats and sweater coats provide a warm layer for your dog, keeping them nice and cozy on cold days. Some fleece coats even have four legs, providing extra protection from mud, keeping the owner as happy as the dog when you return home from a winter walk!
Equafleece make durable and washable fleece coats which come in lots of different style options including 4 legs, front legs only, or no legs. They are close-fitting and so have a huge range of different sizes and shapes to choose from and they even have specific options for the more unusual shaped breeds like Dachsunds.
Hotterdog fleeces are less tightly-fitted and so come in more general sizes. They are really easy to put on your dog which makes them a great choice for sensitive dogs or when you’re in a rush after a training session, for example.

 

 

 

3. Drying Coats

Drying coat after a soggy walk

Specifically for soggy doggies, drying coats are made to be worn after a walk. They are super- absorbent, meaning all that muddy rain ends up on the coat rather than your carpets and furniture, as well as ensuring your dog returns to full comfort as quickly as possible.

The market leaders in drying coats, Ruff & Tumble make great quality absorbent coats for those super wet days. They stand out from other drying coats as the toweling is double-layered meaning the moisture stays on the coat and doesn’t seep through to your soft furnishings.

 

 

4. Active Dog Injury Prevention

Back on Track coat to help the active dogs

Like drying coats, these are also designed to be worn after exercise but are specifically created for cooling the muscles down slowly after strenuous exercise, which as mentioned above is really important, especially for sport dogs.
Back on Track is a great brand which specializes in heat therapy and their coats are manufactured using a ceramic infused textile which reflects your dog’s body heat using FAR infrared energy. These are particularly great for post-workout use and for sore dogs generally.

Fitting the Coat

Now you know what type of coat you want, think about whether you need a hole for the lead to attach to the harness and how simple it is to take on and off. Before you go out, buy a coat and pop it on your dog, you also need to make sure it is properly fitted, and your dog is comfortable, they have free movement and are not constricted. If you’re going to leave your dog unattended wearing a coat, choose a coat without dangly bits which may get chewed or tangled. It’s also important to ensure your dog is comfortable emotionally as well as physically.

Best practice is to:

1. Measure Properly

One of the many great things about dogs is they come in so many different shapes and sizes, but this can make it tricky when trying to find a decent coat.

Some brands are adjustable and some even make coats specifically for certain breeds, but you’ll still need to measure your dog properly.
Most brands you buy from will need a measurement from the base of the neck to the base of the tail, a girth measurement of your dog’s chest, and a neck measurement, but some will need more than this. The best brands have online videos and pictures to help you measure; make sure you watch them thoroughly and measure your dog twice to be sure!

Well fitted rain coat

2. Get your Dog used to Wearing a Coat

Many people skip this step, but it’s really important to ensure your dog’s well being. One of the big things that dogs struggle with is the head coming through the hole. A few coat brands make coats that don’t require this as they strap across the chest, but these are rare so it’s a great idea to desensitise your dog to this experience. Do you need some treat ideas for your training?

First make sure you let your dog see and sniff the coat first. I like teaching my dogs to put their head through the hole, just as they put on their collars. This can be a fun game to practice. Hold the coat up with the hole head height and as your dog moves towards it, reward through the gap! Don’t move the coat towards the dog, let the dog move towards you and put their head through.

The next important bit is when the material touches their back, you can practice that with the dog walking under the coat, or just gently placing it on their back after a gentle stroke with your hand, so the sensation doesn’t spook them.

For dogs who are noise sensitive, if the coat has a clip, velcro or zip, it’s better train those sounds before you put the coat on. Hold the coat in your hand, make the sound then feed a treat. Watch your dog’s body language, does it change?

Once the coat is on ask your dog to follow a treat for a few steps, or their favourite tricks or play with them a little, let them be okay moving in the coat, it can be weird first!

 

Does your dog wear a coat? What’s your favourite brand?