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Many dogs need a warm, waterproof supplementary coat in winter and at points in spring and autumn to keep them warm enough on their walks, but knowing which days your dog needs a coat on and which days are mild enough for them to manage on their own can be hard.
This article will help you to tell if your dog needs to wear their coat today or not. Read on to learn more.
The simplest way to tell if your dog needs their coat is to assess if your dog is cold or not. Obviously you don’t want to deliberately make them cold just to find this out, but it is important to learn to identify the signs that your dog is cold generally; this information can then be used in future to allow you to tell your dog is cold or if the temperature is likely to be an issue for them.
Also, even if you’ve decided that the weather is not too cold for your dog on paper, if you get out and your dog starts to show signs that they’re cold within a few minutes take your lead from this and not the temperature, and head back in for their coat!
So, what signs tell you that your dog is cold? If they’re shivering this is an obvious one, but a dog that is cold won’t always shiver; that happens at a certain stage and if your dog isn’t quite that cold but is still uncomfortable (or if they’re too cold, on the flipside) they won’t be shivering.
Goosebumps also indicates your dog is cold, but some signs will be more subtle. If your dog is standing or sitting hunched up, fidgeting or holding their paws off the floor in turn, has their tail tucked close to their rump and their ears flat (if their ears are mobile) these are all signs.
If your dog generally looks unhappy and uncomfortable, this should be a cue too.
Also, feel the base of your dog’s ears with your bare hand (a hand at room temperature, this will not work if your hand is cold!) and if they feel cool or cold, it is coat weather.
Assessing the temperature itself can help to tell you if your dog needs their coat, but there’s not a set temperature below which every dog needs to be bundled up; all dogs are different, and there can be quite the variance in tolerances from dog to dog even among those that need coats at times.
Obviously the colder it is, the greater the chances of your dog needing their coat on, but you will have to get to know your own dog’s norms and use the checks above to work out whether or not your dog does need a coat on any given day.
Some dogs need a coat for temperatures below around 15 degrees Celsius if they won’t be very active. Generally at temperatures below around 12 degrees Celsius, many if not most dogs who need a coat at some point will need one. However, dogs that only need coats on cold rather than just cool days might be fine until things drop below 7 degrees.
These figures are only a very broad guide though!
A dull, overcast day will mean more dogs need coats than a bright day, even if the temperature on paper is the same. Remember though if the sun goes in when you are out or even if you cross over into shadow your dog might get cold, so err on the side of caution if you’re unsure.
How bright it is and the temperature on paper all go out of the window if there’s a biting wind to contend with too; if it looks or feels windy or if you find your own nose or un-gloved fingers feel cold when you go outside, put your dog’s coat on them.
Rain means your dog will need a coat unless the day is mild, as getting wet will make your dog colder than they would otherwise feel. Again bear this in mind if it is not raining yet but rain is threatened!
Any time there is ice or snow on the ground, the vast majority of dogs that need a coat at some point will need theirs on; and potentially, booties too as they may still get too cold even if bundled up in their coat.
If you’re going for a long walk, your dog will slow down and get tired towards the end of it and may get cooler. Also, the weather might change (and even when it starts to get dark it cools down) while you’re out if you are on a long walk, so bear that in mind too.
If your dog is very active on their walks and only really slows down in the final few minutes before they get home, they’re less likely to need a coat than a dog that tends to stroll sedately at all times, or one that works off their energy early on and then plods along.
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