You enjoy cold, crisp weather, but you bundle up before heading out into the chill, of course. Your dog wants to go wherever you do. You don't have to worry that he'll get cold on a long walk. A properly fitting jacket keeps him comfortable -- but not all breeds need coats in cold weather.
Who Needs a Jacket?
If your dog's natural hair coat is quite thick and fluffy, he probably won't need a coat for his winter constitutionals. If he doesn't have much of a coat, consider getting him a sweater or jacket. Old dogs or those with compromised immune systems can also benefit from the warmth provided by a jacket. Many toy breeds lack sufficient body heat in cold weather to stay warm outside, even for brief periods. If it's too cold outside and a dog is uncomfortable relieving himself, he might start having accidents in the house.
The Right Size
Many dog jackets come in basic small, medium, large and extra-large sizes. Others are available in specific sizes. Those sizes are based on measurments from the tail base to the neck. If you're not sure what size best fits your dog, measure him. Make sure he stands squarely, with his head raised, when you take his measurements. Some manufacturers produce coats designed for certain breeds or types. For example, Foggy Mountain Dog Coat's dachshund jacket also fits other short-legged breeds, such as the Pekingese and the Lhasa apso.
Shopping With Fido
If possible, take your dog with you when you shop for his jacket. Many pet and farm supply stores allow well-behaved dogs on the premises. There's no substitute for trying a jacket on your pet and assuring a correct fit. While Internet and catalog shopping are good alternatives, investigate a company's return policies before ordering. If a company's policy is that any sign of dog hair on a garment nixes the return, you might want to order elsewhere. It's important to take into consideration ease of maintenance when purchasing a dog jacket. Look for a coat that's machine-washable and -dryable.
The Well-Dressed Canine Wardrobe
You probably have more than one coat in your closet to meet all of your needs. It's also likely you can repress the desire to roll around in something nasty on the ground, but your pooch might not exercise that restraint. If your dog frequently accompanies you, perhaps he also needs more than one outfit or simply a spare in case his jacket becomes soiled. The well-dressed canine's wardrobe might consist of a sweater for those chilly autumn nights, a raincoat for walks in downpours, and one or two heavy-duty jackets for cold-weather outings.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.