Winter is a time for cozy sweaters, warm booties, and snuggly blankets—not just for you, but for your dog, too. Whether you enjoy splurging on canine apparel for any occasion, or only consider dressing your dog up to suit the weather, wintertime brings many opportunities for both practical and adorable accessorizing, from bundling up your pup in warm clothing and booties, to swaddling him or her in fleece blankets and plush beds.
For some dogs, bundling up in warm clothing is more than just a fun activity. Certain types of dogs are less capable of regulating their body temperature, and they are more susceptible to becoming chilled or even hypothermic in very cold temperatures. Some dogs need a sweater or coat even when indoors, but especially when outside—particularly if there is snow. Some breeds that need more bundling up include those that are very tiny, such as the chihuahua, maltese, toy fox terrier and Yorkshire terrier.
Hairless breeds, including the American hairless terrier, Chinese crested, Peruvian Inca orchid and xoloitzcuintli, as well as those with sparse, short coats, such as the Boston terrier, French bulldog, Italian greyhound and miniature pinscher, may need extra protection against the cold.
When choosing winter clothes, beds and blankets for your dog, look for items that are machine washable or otherwise easy to clean. Whether you are looking to accessorize your dog for winter for fun or out of necessity, here are some basics to keep in mind.
Add an Extra Layer
Doggie sweaters and shirts are great for indoor wear (if safe) or sunny outdoor excursions when temperatures are chilly rather than freezing. A sweater wraps your dog in a soft hug and keeps its torso and sometimes legs covered and warm. You can even find doggie flannel pajamas—the perfect extra layer on a chilly winter evening. Doggie sweaters, shirts and pajamas come in a variety of fun styles so there’s something for everyone’s tastes, as long as your dog is not overheating in a layer it does not need.
Make Walks Comfortable
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you should stop walking your dog, but it’s important to dress your dog appropriately so the walk is enjoyable for you both. In dry, cold weather, fleece vests, jackets or coats are comfortable, lightweight options that provide a lot of warmth. Quilted coats are thicker and very warm. Some dog jackets and vests are even designed so you can you use them as a harness by hooking your dog’s leash to a ring on the back. If you're using a jacket as a harness, make sure they fit well enough that your dog can't slip out if they put on the brakes.
If you’ll be outside in the rain or snow, invest in some water-resistant protective clothing for your dog. Doggie raincoats or rain ponchos are good at keeping your dog dry, but may be too thin to provide enough warmth unless you add an additional layer underneath like a sweater. If you want to streamline your dog’s outerwear, you can find insulated dog jackets or coats with waterproof outer shell, which provide both warmth and protection from wet weather.
For regions with heavy snowfall, you can even find full body doggie snowsuits that protect your dog from head to tail. If your dog has long ears or long hair on its head, consider using a snood. Snoods are like fabric bags that slip over the dog’s head and ears, staying in place with elastic. They protect your dog’s long hair and ears from rain and snow. An added bonus: Snoods are also great for making mealtime neater by keeping your dog’s long ears out of the food bowl. Plus, they do look sleek and stylish.
Keep Those Paws Dry
Your dog’s paws may be sensitive and susceptible to frostbite from freezing snow and ice. Dogs can also have painful ice balls get stuck in the hair between their pads. Snowy and icy conditions are also slippery, which can create slip and fall dangers for your pup. Winter booties not only keep your dog’s paws dry and toasty warm; they also protect them from the elements and provide excellent traction so your dog can run and play in the fun winter weather. Booties come in many different styles, many of which are as fashionable as they are functional. Look for booties made from water-resistant materials and that have textured soles that are somewhat flexible so they are comfortable for your dog to wear. Booties come in different sizes to fit different paws.
Note that your dog’s front paws might be a different size from the back paws, so measure both! Booties can also be used in spring and summer when hiking or walking on hot pavement. Many dogs will not know how to walk with booties on immediately, so some training and acclimatization may be needed before their first trip out.
Create Cozy Spaces
It’s warmer inside than out, but it’s usually still chilly indoors in winter, so creating an inviting warm space for your dog to curl up will be a welcome addition. Look for an extra fluffy bed made of fleece or another cozy material. Beds shaped like donuts or those with raised sides offer extra snuggling potential. You can add a soft blanket or two for your dog to dig and arrange as nesting material, or go one step further and choose an enclosed “pup tent” filled with blankets or “cuddle bed,” which is designed with a flap over the top for your dog to crawl under and burrow into. You can find plenty of products that fit in with your own aesthetic, too.
If you take frequent car trips, add some warm blankets in the car, so your dog stays warm and comfortable on the road. It doesn’t hurt to throw on a sweater before hopping in the car, even if you don’t plan to take your dog outside.
Have Fun Accessorizing for Winter
As you think of your dog’s comfort and warmth in winter, you have a lot of great options. If you like to pamper your pooch, it’s a great excuse to have some fun and build up an exciting wardrobe with safe products. Always pay attention to your dog when outdoors in winter to make sure it is not getting too chilled. Keep your dog warm, dry, and happy, and you can conquer the winter together—indoors and out.