What Gear Your Dog Needs for Snow/Rain Play This Winter
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Have you heard this quote from Alfred Wainwright? Well, the same rings true for dogs—except we’re talking mostly about their natural clothing, not actual clothing. Some dogs come “pre-equipped” with more clothing than others, so it’s up to the owners to do a thorough assessment of each dog’s needs. There are a variety of variables you need to take into account, such as age, weight, fur/hair type, and fitness.
Puppies and elderly dogs are the most delicate when it comes to weather. Just like humans, they don’t have the same resiliency as juvenile and adult pups. Their temperature regulation is not fully functional, so don’t allow your puppy or elderly dog to stay out in cold rain or snow for extended periods without a waterproof coat and booties. This does vary a bit depending on their coat (which we’ll get to in a minute).
Overweight dogs tend towards overheating since it takes very little for them to increase their heart rate and blood flow, and their ample insulation affects their ability to cool off after the exertion. If you have an overweight short haired or small dog, monitor their exertion, and remove the coat when it appears they may be overheating. With proper feeding and exercise, you will be able to help improve their overall health and fitness—which will also help them regulate their body temperature more effectively.
General size also makes a difference in heat regulation. Dogs with long legs are much further from the snow packed ground, providing them with a natural “off-roading package.” Dogs with short legs grind through the snow often up to their face, wearing the ice as a frigid blanket as they carry on.
There are a variety of different types of coats on dogs, almost like the trim on a car. You’ve got the “sports model” that comes with short hair that is easily wiped down, shed heat rapidly and shows off the pup’s muscle. There is long hair that is more insulating and dramatic, and often time-consuming to untangle/brush.
Finally, there are double coats that have a short, soft inner coat like the insulation in your jacket than a thick long exterior coat that acts as their “shell”. Dogs with double coats can quickly overheat if they are clothed with jackets and other insulating wear, even if it’s snowing out—these dogs are the ones made for winter. Examples of breeds with double coats include Akita, Alaskan Husky, Shiba Inu, Siberian Husky, Australian Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog, Bernese Mountain Dog, and Great Pyrenees.
Raincoat: Find a raincoat that not only protects from water on the back but the chest/abdomen as well. If your dog has a double coat then consider a simple cape to help manage the mess, do not place a heavily insulated jacket on him/her.
Booties: For prolonged snow treks equip your dog with booties designed for the snow. This will prevent hypothermia (your dog’s temperature regulating glands are in the paws), and frostbite.
Waterproof skid plate: This is helpful to protect your pup from cutting their chest on unexpected tree branches that are just below the surface of the snow.
Warming pad in the car: Treat your hard working dog to a nice 12V heating pad when they triumphantly climb back into your rig. You’ve got your hot cocoa waiting, this way they can enjoy a warming treat as well.