Canadian Tips for Buying a Winter Coat for Your Dog

It’s more than just a fashion statement.

It gets downright chilly up here in the Great White North. That’s why buying the right winter coat for your dog when the temperatures drop is a must before you head out with your pooch. I’ve got a few tips I’ve picked up from my many Artic Vortex winters, so you know exactly what you should be looking for in a quality canine winter coat.

Before you can say “What happened to summer?!”, the temperature drops, you can see your frosty breath and you’re scrapping off your car before the early morning commute. As you’re pulling out your winter wardrobe, it’s also time to get your dog outfitted in the right gear. Sure, they have a furry coat to keep them warm, but it’s often not enough – especially for smaller dogs (Chihuahuas, Pugs), thin dogs (Whippets, Greyhounds) and senior dogs. They need the most protection from the biting cold and would benefit immensely with the addition of a winter coat.

It’s easy to buy a dog coat based on style alone. There are some super-adorable ones out there—but bling and cuteness won’t keep your dog toasty this winter! What should you look for? Every dog is different, so his needs will determine what winter coat he wears. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind when choosing a winter coat for your dog:

Material Used

The material that makes up a winter jacket will determine how warm your dog will stay. Permeable fabrics, such as fleece or wool, will absorb moisture and become a wet blanket that chills your dog to the bone. Make sure the outer material on the coat is waterproof, such as nylon, so that your dog can roll around in the snow with fear of freezing.

Coat Filling

Just like the coat that keeps you warm in the winter, the same goes for your dog. You want the coat to trap the heat coming off your dog’s body. If you’re in a colder climate, your dog’s coat should be puffy—this means it has more filling. The puffier the coat, the warmer your dog will be. This is because it has more room to trap warm air and hold it against your dog’s body.  My dog’s coat is filled with polyester fiber, which keeps him snug, and leads me to my next point.

Machine Washable

You know how dogs get dirty so quickly. Now, think about all the snow, slush, salt and moisture that get trapped in your dog’s winter jacket. You want to be able to wash or clean it easily. Even if you can’t throw it in the washing machine, you’ll want to give it a good scrubbing on occasion. However, be aware that you don’t want to machine wash your dog’s winter coat too often. This causes the fibers on the inside to compact, which eliminates air pockets and reduces its ability to keep your dog warm.

Proper Fit

If this is your first time buying a coat, bring your dog to a pet store to try on a few sizes. The stores may have a limited availability, but you want to see how your dog moves around in a coat and how it fits around the neck, torso and legs. If you’re buying online, each manufacturer has its own sizing guide. Be sure to measure your dog and check them against the individual site’s guidelines before ordering. One store’s small size may be another’s large—so measure twice and order once!

Don’t be put off if your dog doesn’t like his new winter coat at first, especially if he’s used to going “au natural.” Let him wear it around the house for a few minutes at a time to get him used to this extra bulk. After a few days, he’ll be eager to show off his new duds during your next walk in a winter wonderland!

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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