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Fido, it’s cold outside. Those of us without a fur coat are accustomed to piling on the sweaters, coats, hats and gloves before heading out into unforgiving winter weather, but what about our canine companions? Sure, their natural coat provides some protection against the cold and the elements, but many dogs can still benefit from some additional help in the form of cold-weather accessories.
There are a lot of products out there, and the key to choosing the right ones, says Greg Price, DVM, the Ohio-based owner/operator of Town & Country Veterinary Clinic, is pretty simple: Know your dog. “You really need to pay attention to your pet,” he says.
“If they look cold, they probably are. [Choosing appropriate cold-weather gear] really involves more common sense than anything else. If you’re just going out for a five-minute potty break, you probably don’t have much to worry about. But if you’re going out for a two- to three-mile walk, really pay attention to your dog’s behavior,” Price says.
Not surprisingly, smaller dogs warrant more consideration than their larger brethren. “They don’t have as much of a core to hold their heat, whereas that big Lab or other bigger dogs have more of a core. Small dogs aren’t winter-hardy — they have fine hair, short coats, and that makes them more susceptible to chill,” Price says.
As winter begins to gear up or wind down, Chilly Dogs sweet fleece sweaters are the perfect accessories for excursions on a chilly day. They can be worn alone or in combination with other outerwear items, and they're also great for indoor use when your pet needs a little extra comfort. Chilly Dogs sweaters are machine washable and come in a rainbow of classy colors.
Chilly Dogs fleece sweaters, $38-$60
Ruffwear’s highly rated lightweight insulated jacket is packed with convenient features and works well for dogs of all sizes. Side-release fasteners make it easy to get on and off your canine companion, and after your excursion, the coat packs down small to fit inside a handy, sewn-in “stuff sack.”
Ruffwear insulated jacket, $85
Foggy Mountain Dog Coats
When it’s especially cold, or there’s a nasty wind chill afoot, try Foggy Mountain’s highly functional nylon turnout coat. Originally developed for horses, this sturdy outerwear selection will keep your dog toasty warm in even the coldest climates. The fuzzy fleece lining makes it a comfortable choice, while the nylon shell repels wind, rain, sleet and snow. A wide variety of colors and sizes are available.
Foggy Mountain nylon turnout coat, $49-$103
Doctors Foster and Smith
Musher's Secret salve, made from human-grade waxes and pure vitamin E, creates a form-fitting barrier between your pet’s paws and whatever surface he’s walking on. Musher’s Secret is semi-permeable, meaning it allows perspiration to escape through the toes while continuing to protect against snow and ice, as well as hot sand and pavement.
Musher's Secret, $11, at Doctors Foster and Smith
Tender Foot healing cream soothes foot pads made ragged by too much activity and not enough protection, and it also works well on your dry, cracked elbows caused by too much chillin’ in the snowdrift. Replete with vitamins A, D, and E, and plenty of other good stuff, Tender Foot can also be used as a daily moisturizing treatment.
Tender Foot, $10, at Doctors Foster and Smith
Sure, these aren’t the chicest things on the pet store shelf, but Pawz waterproof rubber booties make up in functionality what they lack in style. Reusable and — when they wear out — disposable, Pawz keep your dog’s feet dry and protected against icy, wet pavement and snow-melting chemicals. They won’t do much to keep doggie feet warm or insulated, but pair them with a wooly sock and Pawz can quickly become your go-to foot-protection option, whether on a walk around the neighborhood or on a hiking excursion.
Pawz waterproof rubber booties, $13-$18, at Petco
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