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Penny Lane and Sammy with coats

The author’s dogs Sammy and Penny Lane are ready for a walk, donning their winter coats.

I’m an avid dog walker. I walk my two small dogs, Sammy and Penny Lane, several times a day.

The walks don’t stop when it’s cold and icy out, though walking in the winter isn’t nearly as enjoyable as being out in beautiful weather. For one thing, it takes a lot longer to get bundled up to go out into the cold. I can’t just hook up the leashes and head out the door. One thing that can make it take even longer yet is when I bundle the dogs up.

I, like many pet owners, have coats for my dogs. I don’t make them wear the coats all the time – only when it’s particularly cold out. As I watched my dogs walk in last year’s coats, I found myself wondering how effective this apparel really is. These coats didn’t cover the dogs’ heads, legs or even their shoulders. They were wraps that went around their midsections.

So recently I set out on a quest to find warmer coats. I found what I would describe as the dog equivalent of a parka. These coats cover their shoulders and necks completely as well as the tops of their front legs. They even have hoods. These are fleece-lined coats with an outer shell, and definitely feel a lot warmer than the old coats.

Even though the coats look and feel warmer, I still wonder how warm they keep my dogs and whether they even appreciate them. After all, my dogs don’t seem to mind being out in the cold without them. So I decided to go online and do some research.

I found an article on dogster.com titled “Do Dogs Need Coats in the Winter? Seven Myths and Facts.”

According to the article, not all dogs need to wear sweaters or coats in the winter. The apparel is most beneficial to dogs with short hair, dogs that are older and those with medical conditions.

Some dogs won’t tolerate coats. I’ll always remember the time I had a coat on a previous dog who wouldn’t move at all during a walk. I removed the coat and she frolicked in her freedom. According to the article, any dog that “freezes in place” while wearing a coat should not wear a coat.

Not all coats and sweaters are beneficial, the article states. Waterproof coats are best, so keep the cute dog sweaters away during the coldest and wettest of days.

On the flip side, heavier is not always the best, according to the article. Sometimes dogs can overheat.

I’ll still put the parkas on my dogs when the temperature dips to extreme lows, convinced in my own mind that I’m doing something good for them. I’m curious what readers think. Shoot me an email and tell me your opinion on dog coats.

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Lori McGinnis Black can be reached at lori.mcginnisblack@gmail.com

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