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Fur Times | February 19, 2020

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Doggie Winter Gear: Awesome, or Overkill?

Doggie Winter Gear: Awesome, or Overkill?
Julie Horton, DVM

Although it’s been a very mild winter here in New York City, one of the most common questions I am asked is whether a dog should wear a coat. In general, most dogs don’t need coats in mild weather.

 

 

With temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, dogs are able to self-regulate their body temperature very well. Exceptions may be thin, short-haired, young or toy breed dogs. Especially susceptible are Chihuahuas and Italian Greyhounds.

Even with the 32 degree Fahrenheit general rule, you still need to be mindful of your dog’s individual level of comfort. If it’s a relatively cold day and your dog is shivering, he may be cold. In addition, if your dog is used to warmer climates, he may need a coat in the colder weather until he is acclimatized to it.

This is New York City, and I understand that showing off your dog’s fashionista side may be important to you. But just as we exercise and raise our body temperatures, our dogs do too. Please remember to take off your dog’s coat or sweater when running around the dog run. They have fur coats and can overheat quickly.

Booties or no booties?

Frankly, most dogs don’t tolerate booties well, no matter how they are constructed. They can, however, be very helpful on those icy days when every shop owner and doorman is out sprinkling salt. The salt can be extremely uncomfortable and cause a burning sensation to your dog’s paws, especially if they are already raw or irritated. If it becomes a Sumo wrestling match trying to get and keep the booties on, I recommend something like Mushers Secret, which is a wax-like bond you apply to the paws. It’s also important to wash the paws and between the toes after a walk. You can do this with a paper towel saturated with warm water, or with unscented baby wipes.

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