Can Dogs Get Cold? Yes! Here’s How to Keep Them Warm!
We are deep into winter and the temperatures are chilly to downright frigid!
Some dogs don’t mind the cold; as a matter of fact, some love it! Maui certainly is not an outdoor working type of dog but she loves the cold weather! She will lay outside in the snow any day, no matter what temperature it is out there!
Emma, on the other hand, is just the opposite! She is a 20 pound Rat terrier that does not tolerate the cold well at all. When it gets below 40° outside she's only out there only a minute or two - just long enough to get her business done and she's back at the door wanting to come in.
I certainly can feel her pain; I knew she didn't like the cold but I was really surprised by how severely affected she is by the cold weather.
After an episode about a week ago I wanted Emma to be as warm as possible when she goes outside.
Read on to learn about Emma's episode and some of the most popular and best rated dog coats and sweaters available at reasonable prices!
Do Dogs Get Cold?
You might think dogs don't actually get cold because they have that nice fur coat.
Actually, dogs really do get cold! Dogs are mammals just like we are and we both depend on the environment to help us be warm or cool. Just like humans, some dogs are affected by cold more than others.
Some dogs naturally stay warmer because they have a thick undercoat and/or more fur that helps keep them toasty warm. Maui is a Golden retriever with a very thick undercoat and fur. She goes outside when it's 10° and puts her nose up in the air like it's the best thing ever. She's also a big dog and that helps keep her warmer as well.
Other dogs don't have the undercoat, the amount of fur, and/or the size to keep them warm. They can get dangerously cold outside and believe it or not can even get chilled when they are inside (just like us).
Which Dogs Get Colder?
There are a few factors that influence how comfortable or uncomfortable a dog is when it's cold.
- Body size
- Amount of fur and the presence of an undercoat
- Their acclamation to cold-weather
- Their age and health
In general, smaller dogs will get cold much faster than larger dogs.
The smaller the breed the less body mass they have to help keep them warm.
The smaller breeds and short-legged breeds also have to deal with figuring out how to get through the snow! Having to plow their way through the snow, putting them chest deep (or higher) in snow will cause them to get colder more quickly as well.
Emma is a very lean 20-pound dog. Her legs are long so they keep her up out of the snow a bit but she has no fat on that little body. Definitely not equipped to stay warm in cold weather.
Amount of Fur and Undercoat
This one is a little bit of a no-brainer, but dogs with more fur will stay warmer than dogs with less.
Dogs with an undercoat also stay warmer than dogs without; the undercoat acts as an insulator kind of like the inner layer of our jacket.
As I mentioned, Maui is a Golden retriever and she has a very thick undercoat and just thick fur in general. Cold weather doesn't scare her a bit!
Dogs like Rat Terriers that only have a single layer of thin fur with no undercoat will get cold much more quickly!
Acclamation to Cold-weather
No matter what size your dog is if they are not accustomed to severely cold weather (or even moderately chilly) they will get cold when they are out there!
If a Siberian Husky has grown up and lived in Florida and then moves to Minnesota in the winter, it will not be used to the cold weather and will most likely get cold quicker than you would expect.
Your Dog's Age or Health
Puppies and senior dogs will have a tendency to get colder more quickly.
Dogs with medical conditions or if they're not feeling well will also not be able to tolerate the cold as well.
We had some especially frigid weather not too long ago. Of course we have to let our dogs out to go potty and I think Emma waited as long as she could, but finally had to go.
She always does her "quick business" in the closest grass (covered by snow) that she can reach. This time she must have had to do her "other" business because she went trotting around the side of the house.
She was gone for about two minutes (I always wait for her inside the door). She got to the sidewalk about 3 feet from the front door and stopped. She was so cold her legs were shaking as you see in the cartoons. She was shivering so hard and was so cold she couldn't move.
I'm in a wheelchair so I could not go out to get her so I had to try and make her as excited as I could to get her to come into the house. I used my "let's have fun and it's so exciting" voice and tempted her with treats and she finally hobbled and hopped inside the house.
Scared of begeebers out of me! That's when I decided 100% she needed a coat!
Keeping Your Dog Warm Outside
Giving your dog a little extra warmth when they are outside can make that potty run just a little less frigid for them.
I recently spent quite a bit of time shopping around for that coat for Emma and want to share with you some of the most popular; highly rated, and my favorite coats and jackets for dogs so you can help your dog stay warm and cozy well!
Prices of the coats and sweaters vary by size, with the smaller sizes usually costing less than the larger sizes.
Prices will also vary daily so what I have listed here might not be exactly the same as what you see.
PUPTECK Reversible Waterproof Coat
I'm sharing this one with you first because it was my final choice for Emma, is really inexpensive, and fits her perfectly!
This coat comes in sizes ranging from XS to XL. I could swear there was a sizing chart when I purchased Emma's but I can't find it any longer. The Amazon listing indicates a medium measures: length 16”, neck girth 14-16”, chest girth 20-24”.
There are three color variations:
- Red & black plaid / black solid
- Green & blue plaid / blue solid
- Gray & white plaid / gray solid
The plaid side has a cute pocket where you can put your keys or drivers license for safekeeping if your dog is wearing this when you're out on a walk (Maui says it would be a great place for a snack, too).
This coat is made with polyester fiber filling and has two padded straps with Velcro to fit around your dog - one around the neck and one around the chest.
$9.99 and up (There is a 15% off coupon right now!)
IREENUO Windproof & Waterproof Jacket with Reflective Strip
This jacket comes in sizes ranging from S to XXXL! When you go to the Amazon listing there is a sizing chart to help you the right size for your dog.
Reviewers on Amazon indicate that they love the jacket but it does tend to run a little small so if you are questioning ordering between two sizes I might opt for the bigger size.
The jacket comes in three colors:
Each has a reflective strip that goes from hip to hip around the back end.
Warm, water resistant, windproof, breathable, reflective, and machine washable!
Note: the listing indicates the jacket is reversible but after examining several photos it does not look to be.
Price: $20.49 and up (there is a 6% off coupon right now!)
Gooby PULLOVER Stretch Fleece Vest/JACKET
This one comes in sizes ranging from XS to 6X and 15 different colors!
This one is made of fleece and is a pullover style. I initially thought a pullover style would be difficult to get on and off but many reviewers on Amazon indicated it was really easy to get on and off their dog.
The fleece has some stretch so it makes for a comfortable fit and a little leeway if you're not sure which size to get.
The Amazon listing does have a size chart so be sure and check that before you order.
Some folks indicated having a little size trouble because their dog has a big barrel chest. You might want to read through some of the reviews and see what they have to say if your dog has a wide chest.
This cute little jacket is machine washable. Many reviewers indicate they wash it with no troubles (shrinking or pilling).
Price: $12.75 and up
Gooby Bomber Jacket with Stretchable Chest
Comes in sizes XS to XL and 9 solid colors and 5 plaid colors.
This coat looks super easy to get on and off!
It has a zipper down the back so you just unzip the back; let your dog step into the two leg holes, then zip the zipper back up!
The zipper has a guard to protect against catching your dog's fur in the zipper.
Around the legs and across the bottom underneath the chest is a strategy knit. This gives a little leeway for sizing and makes for a more comfortable fit around the chest.
There is a sizing chart in the Amazon listing so definitely be sure and check that out.
Water resistant, super easy on and off, special leash attachment, warm, and machine washable!
Price: $25.99 and up
Blueberry Classic Cable Knit Sweater
If your dog is more of a sweater type, this one might be for him!
This sweater comes in multiple sizes. They don't give a letter size but the sizing starts from a back length of 8 inches for the smallest size and a back length of 20 inches for the largest size.
This one also has a sizing chart on the Amazon listing so be sure to reference it before ordering.
The sweater comes in 20 different colors!
The yarn used to make the sweaters is an acrylic/wool blend consisting of 90% acrylic and 10% wool.
It has a cute little turtleneck and is a pullover style sweater.
This sweater is a bit lighter weight so it is not intended for super cold weather.
Machine washable in cold water and dry flat.
Price: $9.99 and up
Hurtta Extreme Warmer Winter Jacket
If you live somewhere that experiences extremely cold weather; do outdoor sports with your dog, or spend a lot of time outside in the winter with your dog this might be the jacket your dog needs!
This one is designed to be extremely warm!
This jacket comes in back lengths ranging from 10 inches to 26 inches and comes in 5 different colors.
This one has some amazing design features to keep your dog warm that other coats and jackets don't have:
- heat reflective foil lining to help keep your dog warmer
- extra protection for the neck and chest
- a warm tricot hood to protect your dogs head and ears
- a protective rear hem
- adjustable collar, waist, and back length
These features and superior warmth bring a heftier price tag but if you read reviews on Amazon people really love this cold weather dog jacket!
Price: $88.00 and up
Notes About Sizing
Except for the coat that I purchased for Emma, at the time I am writing this blog all of the others have a sizing chart in the listing. Be sure to check it out because in my shopping I learned that all don't run the same.
You might need a medium in one style and brand but a small in another - kind of like our human jeans (one brand never seems to run the same as another).
Stay Warm and Have Fun
I hope Maui, Emma, and I were able to show you some great cold weather wear that you and your dog like and can find useful.
Emma is not a super fan of getting her jacket on but once it's on, she doesn't seem to mind it and might even appreciate the extra warmth. She hasn't tried to get it off yet so that's a good sign!
Next blog post we will talk about another important winter item for your dog - boots and booties!
Crunchy snow, ice, and excessive cold on the paw pads can be painful and can cause damage. Stay tuned to hear about Maui and Emma's best picks for dog boots and!
Does your dog have a favorite coat or sweater?
Have you tried any that are great or are really bad?
Maui and Emma are waiting fur your comments!