Why Dogs Need Coats - excerpted from the Whole Dog Journal and originally written by Nancy Kerns.
Putting a coat on your dog shouldn’t be about making a fashion statement. Rather, it should be about keeping a chilly dog warm, thereby preventing hypothermia, a dangerous condition characterized by a reduced internal body temperature. (The normal canine body temperature is 100.5 to 102 degrees. A dog whose temperature drops below 95 degrees can die.) Thank goodness, the majority of our dogs are living inside with us. They are not developing thick undercoat and the stamina to endure colder temperatures. Think about how we feel on the first cold days of fall.
A dog’s natural protection against cold varies from breed to breed. Labradors and certain Northern dogs (Huskies and Malamutes, for example) have developed with special physiological responses for coping with cold. However, many other breeds (and certain individual dogs) benefit from extra warming layers in cold weather, including:
• Thin dogs, who may not have adequate fat stores to keep themselves warm
• Extremely short-haired dogs and/or breeds accustomed to exotic climates
• Immune-compromised dogs, who should be protected from the stress of cold
• Older dogs, especially those in poor health
Warming up these dogs actually helps them stay healthy, by sparing the dog’s body from having to generate as much heat as it would have to otherwise. By simply slipping an extra layer on these dogs, you can help them preserve their physiological resources for the maintenance of general health and vitality.
If you shop in stores, you have a huge advantage over catalog shoppers. You can try several coats on your dog to check their fit and ease of application, and you can examine them closely for good-quality zippers, seams, and Velcro fasteners, and thick, warm fabric. It is amazing to watch a dog’s reaction when the right coat is put on their body. They relax and move normally.
The only drawback to shopping for a coat in person is finding a store that carries a broad-enough selection of quality designs to choose from. (Editor’s note. . . Pet Pantry takes pride in our large selection of quality coats that will truly keep a dog warm. Our staff is fully trained to help you properly fit your dog.)
Also, keep your dog’s body type in mind as you examine coat candidates. Some designs are clearly intended for deep-chested, narrow-waisted dogs like Greyhounds. Others better suit block-bodied dogs such as Golden Retrievers. Check the placement of the closures to see whether they can be adjusted to accommodate your dog. And with male dogs, always make certain everything clears their equipment so they are not urinating on the coat.