Does Your Dog Need a Raincoat or Boots for Rainy Walks?
Here's when your furry friend could benefit from some protection against the elements, according to experts.
Just like people, dogs thrive in the sun-dappled weather of a perfect spring day, and they are often less enthused about stepping out in a sprinkle. "Keeping yours dry during chilly, rainy weather is one good way to prevent him from having any core temperature concerns," says Whitney Miller, director of veterinary medicine at Petco.
To determine if a mini slicker or boots could come in handy for Fido, first take into account the length of your excursion: "If you just need to take your dog out quickly to do his business, he may be fine without gear," says Michelle Logan, director of national embed programming at Best Friends Animal Society. "But if you're heading out for a longer walk or hike, it's a good idea to give him some extra insulation." Then, consider these variables, and follow our advice for easing your dog into his new gear.
Working breeds like Rottweilers and Siberian Huskies as well as retriever breeds usually don't mind a good soaking, says Miller. (Huskies, in particular, are native to cold climates and sport coats that are well-suited for low temperatures.) "Also, smaller dogs are more vulnerable to the cold than larger ones, so don't be shy about layering up for your Chihuahua," says Logan.
His Hair Type
As you might imagine, dogs with thin coats have more difficulty adapting to cold or rainy weather than ones with thick or double coats, says Miller. Another fur consideration: the length of his hair. Long or wiry hair can get knotted or matted when drenched, adds Miller. (This is something to look out for with Border Terriers, Scottish Terriers, and Russell Terriers, for instance.) And when that happens, it can be extra-challenging to brush or clean.
Some dogs just get cranky in even the lightest mist. "A jacket can make a rainy trek outside more tolerable for those pups," says Miller (not to mention for the owners trying to drag them out the door). If you notice your canine digs in his heels whenever you try for a rainy walk, it's possible that he despises the feeling of wet fur and a coat could be just the investment to help. While you're at it, Miller recommends rain boots, too, to help prevent accidental injuries: "Dogs can't always tell what they're stepping on with standing or moving water," she explains.
Shopping for a Dog Coat—and Introducing it to Your Dog
"As with any gear, it's important to read the size chart carefully when shopping for your dog's raincoat," says Logan. You want to make sure it doesn't hinder his mobility (or ability to do his business), but also, that it isn't so loose, he's at risk of tripping over it. "A good rule of thumb is that you should comfortably be able to fit two fingers between your dog and anything he's wearing," adds Logan.
If you manage to outfit Scruffy, and notice that he's moving more slowly than usual (or won't move at all), flops on his side, or starts pawing or chewing at the clothing, there's a good chance that he's feeling uncomfortable. It's smart to double-check the fit, but also to have a bit of patience, keeping in mind that there will be an adjustment period as he learns that a coat and boots are positive (not problematic) reinforcements.
Both Logan and Miller suggest starting to train your dog inside on a day when you don't actually need him to wear the coat and boots, and working gradually, rewarding him with treats as you coax each leg and paw into the gear. It's important to give positive feedback throughout and continue offering treats, so he creates a happy association with the new items. "Keep your first few sessions short," Miller says, "and build up to a full walk outside."