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Do Dogs Need Coats in Cold Weather?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Certain dog breeds need sweaters or jackets to protect them from the cold
  • Small dogs and breeds with thin or short hair benefit from a comfortable dog sweater
  • Dogs with long hair may not require additional sweaters for the winter cold
  • Dogs should wear coats if the temperature outside is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower
  • Signs of hypothermia in dogs include shivering, pale gums, low pulse and breathing rates, lack of body coordination, dilated pupils, and lethargy
Written by Viena
Viena is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Licensed veterinarian and animal behaviorist with over three years of experience and a Ph.D. in Poultry Science.
Published on
Wednesday 7 October 2020
Last updated on
Friday 9 June 2023
do dogs need coats in cold weather
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If you have always wanted to purchase dog coats in winter and other cute articles of clothing and accessories for your fur babies, then you might as well know several things. Certain dog breeds do need sweaters or jackets to keep them protected from the cold.

Although dogs may have an external layering system, some of them still have lighter and thinner hair compared to others. There are also breeds not used to specific environments that quickly makes them uncomfortable. You can purchase winter dog coats for the snowy days to ensure your fur baby has the protection and warmth they need against freezing temperatures. Always favor warming materials such as fleece!

Do Dogs Need Coats in Cold Weather?

Pet owners can sometimes get carried away by their emotions to purchase a dog winter coat. Taking your dog for a stroll in cold weather can distress you emotionally because of your genuine concern for your fur baby. Because most dogs need time outside for nature’s calling and releasing excess energy, dog owners expect to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach. Jackets or sweaters can be helpful during winter, especially if your pup hesitates to go outside in the snow for relief. They can also act differently if you mostly keep your heating system low to save energy and use blankets and sweaters instead, for your family members.

How your dog can warm himself physically may depend on his size, breed, age, and health. If he’s not the breed to have a thick hair coat, he can only do so much curling up for heat conservation. Smaller dogs, toy breeds, light-bodied breeds, and those that naturally have thin or short hair coats benefit from a comfortable dog sweater. It can be quite useful when they need to go outside, or go about the house. A coating layer or blanket can make a significant impact on the well-being of your dog.

How to Choose the Best Winter Coat for Dogs

Some dogs do not like to wear any type of clothing, especially if it does not give them any comfort. Therefore, when buying a winter coat for your dog, choose the one that is comfortable. Ensure that it fits your dog perfectly and that it gives enough warmth as well.

How to Know if Your Dog Needs a Coat

Most of our furry babies would still like to have some time outside during the winter months, but are dog coats and dog raincoats necessary for protective clothing? In plenty of cases, the answer might be no, especially if your dog has thick fur to keep them comfortable enough. Try to consider the following when deciding on whether to purchase a warm winter sweater for your dogs:

  • Their breed
  • Their size and weight
  • The temperature outside

Below are helpful tips to help you determine when your fur babies need winter clothing or not.

Small Dog Breed

Smaller dogs have a more difficult time in body heat retention, and they may need a coat or sweater outside for more than a few minutes during the cold weather. If your pup comes from a short-haired breed or one that originates from a warm climate, they will need additional clothing for protection. These breeds include Italian Greyhounds, Chihuahuas, and Chinese Crested. Puppies and small-breed dogs will need a sweater when going for a stroll or when playing outside. They may not be able to generate enough body heat, unlike large dogs. Their bellies may also be more prone to brushing against the snow on the ground.


Dogs with long hair, including Great Pyrenees, Huskies, Chow Chows, and Pomeranian, may not require additional sweaters for the winter cold. However, outer clothing’s prerequisite is not only thin and short hair. Dogs that often have short-cropped by their owners, such as Poodles, which can grow thick hair but most fur parents like to have them short to prevent matting, should also have a layer of clothing to keep them warm during low-temperature seasons.

Additionally, older dogs tend to have weaker immune systems, and dogs with illnesses that affect hair growth, including hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s disease, will need warmth from a coat during cold weather. You can purchase jackets or sweaters for your pups, both indoors and outdoors.


If you’re wondering what temperature can a dog stay outside, you should also consider the length of time for their walks and playtime. There is no need for extra clothing for weathers with temperatures more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if the temperature begins to fall lower, some breeds averse to cold will start to be uncomfortable and need clothing.

If you are a small breed owner or might have thin-haired breeds, senior dogs, or puppies, immediately pull out sweaters or jackets. This protective clothing layer is necessary when the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If it drops to below 20 degrees, you should note your dog’s well-being as their responsible owner. Check if they show signs of feeling too cold, even if they have thick fur for cold weather.

Duration of Stay in Cold

You can let your dog stay outside for at least 45 minutes if they have excellent health and if the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If you feel like your dog may be prone to cold even when wearing a sweater, you can shorten the time outside to 30 minutes. Take note that if the temperature is 10 degrees or below, try not to let your dog stay out for more than 10 minutes.

how long dogs can stay in cold
The amount of time your dog can stay outside during winter will depend on the temperature.

Indoor or Outdoors

Always keep in mind that sweaters and coats on your dogs should be necessary when exposed to cold temperatures. If you keep the heating system on in your home, remove their clothing because dogs can be prone to overheating. Try not to let your dog wear the sweater too long indoors to prevent irritation and chafing of the skin.

Signs of Hypothermia in Dogs

  • Shivering and stiff muscles
  • Gums look pale or gray
  • Pulse and breathing rates are becoming low
  • Lack of body coordination
  • Dilated and fixed pupils
  • Lethargy

If your dogs have mild hypothermia, they will most likely be lethargic and shivering. As the illness becomes severe, other symptoms will become more pronounced. The unresponsiveness of your dog will also be more evident, and its body will try to conserve as much body heat as possible. During this point, your dog will concentrate on ensuring its vital organs’ function by restricting blood flow from the other body parts.

If you start noticing any of these concerning signs and symptoms, immediately take your dog inside the house. Dry your pup using a warm towel and let them drink lukewarm water. Additionally, it would also be best to call an emergency vet clinic or your veterinarian. It is to ensure that your dog does not have frostbite or hypothermia. Once the vet arrives, they will thoroughly examine your dog and make a list of treatment options. If not treated immediately, hypothermia can be fatal.

Whether Dogs Need Coats in Winters – FAQs

As the winter season nears, the temperature begins dropping.

Pet owners might start to consider buying sweaters and jackets for their dogs to keep them warm and safe. However, not all dogs require to wear a winter coat during cold weather, and there might be cases where the added layer of clothing does more harm than good.

However, under the appropriate environment, most dogs can also benefit from winter clothes, especially when going out for a walk. Read on further to know more.

At what temperature does a dog need a coat?

Generally, cold temperatures are rarely a problem for dogs until it reaches below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures continue to fall to 32 degrees and below, make sure to pay attention to your dog’s well-being. Twenty degrees Fahrenheit can be risky for most dogs, and they could develop health problems such as frostbite or hypothermia.

How do I know if my dog is cold?

Here are some of the symptoms if your dog feels chilly, especially when outside your home:

– Uncontrollable shivering or shaking
– Continuous barking or whining
– Hesitant to stand-up or continue walking
– Behavior change, such as anxiety
– Tries often to lift their paws above the ground
– Looks for shelter

How do you warm up a cold dog?

If your pup’s body temperature is below 98 degrees Fahrenheit, rush to the vet. If you can’t go out due to bad weather, do the following:

– Use warm blankets or clothes to wrap your pup
– Place hot water in a water bottle wrapped in a towel, and place it on your dog’s stomach
– Let it drink lukewarm water
– Make your dog stay still to preserve body heat

Cold weather is not a significant problem for our dogs. However, if the temperature becomes to drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, then pet owners must understand that dog coats in cold weather. However, to prevent hypothermia or frostbite, it is best to use appropriate clothing materials for our fur babies. Warm blankets and coats can help them feel more comfortable throughout the winter season. It is especially most crucial if you cannot keep them inside the house all the time.

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