Your dog’s winter warmth makeover

Winter’s approach means you need to be thinking about how to keep your dog warm, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop thinking about how to keep them fabulous. Here’s our guide to hot winter styles with the practicality and punch to get them strutting the dog walk feeling comfortable and classy.

Written by Jem Brownlee


The statement jacket

Every dog should have a cute winter jacket in their wardrobe. While dogs are better at dealing with cold temperatures than heat, sometimes they want a fitted little number to give them an extra layer of protection. Look out for good thermal properties and fleece lining, always considering your breed’s coat length and general attitude to temperature, as well as the colour of any accessories.

Fortunately for the low-bellied breeds, wraparound jackets, which can be a valuable barrier against chilling wet ground or snow, made a huge comeback after Crufts Fashion Week this year, while jackets with extra padding around the joints, which are great for arthritic dogs, also give you access to that retro power suit look.

Once you’re back in the warm or if your dog’s jacket gets wet, you should remove it as soon as possible, to avoid their temperature spiking or dropping too low. Also, some dogs just won’t wear them and that’s fine. Don’t force them, just make sure you keep an eye on them when you’re out and maybe make admiring comments to other jacket-wearing dogs, see if they take the hint.

The just-in-case shoes

You may have the jacket sorted, but you might not be park-ready yet. In extreme conditions, dog shoes or socks can be used protect the feet. They stop clumpy mess of fur that shaggier paws can become and the irritation of mud and grit getting stuck between the claws and toe pads. The problem, of course, is that while your dog’s shoes might complete their outfit, they aren’t natural for animals and can seriously interfere with their ability to grip and walk. They should be treated as a necessity, rather than a fashion choice, but you aren’t going to pick clashing colours if you do go for them, are you?

The hi-vis question

Jackets, shoes and collars all come in hi-vis colours and some even have LED lighting attached. These can all be very useful, not only for you to keep track of your dog, but also for motorists, cyclists and other pedestrians to be aware of where they are. Your dog should really have at least one hi-vis item on them whenever they go out in the dark. The question of course, is how hi-vis you go. Going head-to-tail hi-vis (aka lemoning) had its moment in the 2010s and is now in its tricky “ironic or not?” phase. You’ll just have to dress them up and try to judge from their face.

The perfect pad

Your dog will have its usual sleeping spots, but could be driven by low temperatures to seek out somewhere a bit warmer. This could end up being dangerous if they settle too close to heaters or fires, so make sure their beds or other favourite places are kitted out with good thick blankets and made as cosy as they can be.

The live-a-little meal plan

Like us, dogs require a little more food to keep their energy levels up and the cold at bay. Perhaps have a chat with their vet about how much you can increase their diet without contributing to unhealthy weight gain. Sadly, there are no Nadiya recipes involving dog food yet, but she’s probably working on it.

The two-minute skincare regime

Skin infections are more common in winter for dogs, due to their fur getting, then staying wet for increased periods of time. Try to make sure, if your dog does get soaked, that you towel them off well when they get back in. It can also help to ensure that you remove anything they might have stepped in, like grit, salt or antifreeze. These could become irritants or make them ill if left in place or licked off. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy bath, just enough of a scrubbing and towelling to leave them clean, safe and ruggedly tousled.

The harsh-weather haircare treatment

Some dogs develop winter coats, which may require additional grooming to ensure that there’s no matting or knots. Regular grooming will also help promote circulation and skin health – further helping them in the cold weather. Style has no great effect on a dog’s temperature, but think twice about giving them bangs. They don’t weather well.

The running cure

When do we feel warmest? Well, seems silly, but it’s usually after we’ve been hitting the gym or going for a run. Your dog is no different, except it can’t pull off pop-socks. Keeping up exercise will ensure your dog’s metabolism is ticking over and they’re burning calories to keep them warm, as well as promoting good cardiovascular health and circulation.

The must-have behaviour

Good recall is always the dream, as having your dog return on command can save you chasing it for miles or getting into trouble. In rural areas, or places with large bodies of water, they could potentially run over frozen lakes or rivers, as well as intro country roads with poor visibility, so you might want to put extra time into recall training before you let them off the lead.

The golden rule

Finally, just like in hot weather, don’t leave your dogs unattended in vehicles. Temperatures can drop quickly and cars offer very little heat retention, so always take your little friend with you where possible.

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Written by Jem Brownlee

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