Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sweater and Jacket Choices for Dogs Who Need Them

I grew up on a farm. Dogs needing sweaters did not cross my mind. After all, the outside dogs had a barn or shed, straw, and the warmth of the livestock to protect them from the cold. But things change and so has my thinking. I now live in an apartment with two small dogs. We love being outdoors during all types of weather. And my little Daisy definitely needs a sweater to help keep her warm. Would your dog benefit from a sweater too? 

Protect Your Dog Now That Cold Weather Has Arrived

Any dog that remains outside during cold needs to have a shelter, warm and dry bedding, and plenty of food an water.  But what about my little dogs that live inside. They become accustomed to heat and haven't become acclimated to the elements.

My little Daisy is a Rat Terrier. She is small with very short hair. She is nearly hairless on her belly.  It is because of her thin build and short, sparse coat that I looked for her sweaters and jackets when we went for a hike in the woods today.

Daisy in the woods today - protected from the cold wind

Daisy has two different types of outdoor wear.  She has a sweater and a jacket.  

I think jackets are preferable when we are in the woods, when we are hiking for some distance, and if there is no snow.  The jacket is less likely to pick up burrs than the sweater is. The jacket also provides more ventilation while she is exercising. Sometimes, in the sweaters, she becomes over-heated.

I think the sweaters are preferable when it has snowed and we plan on being outside for a shorter period of time. When Daisy's belly is going to be exposed to the snow or when it is bitterly cold, I prefer that she wears her sweater for increased warmth. During snowy weather, I make sure I have two sweaters on hand.  I can put her into a dry sweater while the one that is wet from the snow during a previous walk has time to air-dry.

Both styles can be easy on-off.  Her jacket is an example of straps with velcro that make getting her in and out of it an easy process. Her sweater has long slits (as opposed to actual "sleeves") for her legs. These slits make it easier to get an excited dog in and out of the sweater. I've been very pleased with a variety of dog sweaters and jackets. In my opinion, the most important feature of a good dog sweater is the access opening for the leash.  Sweaters or jackets without those openings are difficult.

Dog Sweaters & Jackets: Things To Consider

These are the things that I keep in mind when purchasing a sweater or jacket for my dog:

  • size of my dog
  • length and thickness of the dog's hair
  • activity level - what will the dog be doing while wearing the sweater or jacket
  • how the sweater or jacket fastens
  • how thick the sweater or jacket is
  • whether or not the sweater/jacket has an opening for the leash
  • is the sweater or jacket washable
  • health of the dog - old dogs, dogs recovering from illnesses, and other situations that make dogs more vulnerable make a sweater or jacket a worthwhile investment

*graphic design courtesy of FotoJet


  1. Very good advice, Dawn, for dogs' outdoor activity when it is cold. And Daisy looks adorable in her pink jacket!

  2. Cute, cute, cute! I love little dogs in sweaters and coats. They just look so adorable. Daisy is no exception.

  3. Since my dogs struggle more in the summer because of their long or dense hair, it never really occurred to me that there were dogs that really needed the jackets and sweaters. I thought they were just for fun! I really appreciate your recommendations based on experience! Daisy looks quite happy to model her jacket for us all. Really neat!

  4. Excellent tips for choosing between a sweater and a jacket, and for providing one or the other for an indoor dog. Our Daisy is a Lab so is designed to thrive in cold weather, even for swimming in very cold water, but I'm still of the opinion that she'd benefit from a jacket on really cold days since she's definitely an indoor dog. She's never worn a shirt or sweater, but I think she'd like it. So many really pretty choices out there! Your Daisy is a perfect model!