Thanks in part to a pet couture industry worth $300 million in 2009, pampered pets in coats are becoming a frequent sight in dog parks and neighborhoods across America. For some categories of dogs, however, coats are a matter of function over fashion.
Tiny dogs like Chihuahuas do shiver in the cold, so you may naturally opt to cover them up for warmth. Other dogs that could benefit from a coat include senior pets, arthritic dogs, sick pets and pups with thin hair -- think greyhounds or whippets. These dogs are all less likely to generate enough body heat to be warm and cozy, so the extra warmth of a coat or sweater helps.
Dogs bred for cold weather generally do fine without coats. Some breeds, like huskies and Newfies, even self-regulate with long, thick fur that naturally insulates them. If these dogs overheat, they could develop heatstroke. Dogs in Juneau, Alaska, nearly never wear coats, an Alaskan vet told the New York Post.
Raincoats on dogs are pretty much a fashion statement and little else. Dogs in the wild get wet naturally, and many domestic dogs don't seem to mind the rain. If you like the look of a pooch in a raincoat, feel free to use it, provided the coat is not too snug.
If you keep your house quite cold to save on heating costs, you may want to keep a coat-candidate pooch in a sweater. Heated dog beds or blankets for burrowing offer additional ways to keep Fido warm while you're at work. Dogs who don't need coats shouldn't wear one inside, but can suit up in light jackets for long walks if you prefer coat couture.
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