Do dog coats cause your dog to overheat?

by Darren Jamieson on January 11, 2009

This Christmas many dog owners would have bought dog coats for their dogs to wear during the cold months, but are these dog coats really a good idea? Animal welfare experts claim that coats for dogs, rather than provide much needed warmth for dogs, could actually be causing dogs to get too hot and overheat.

According to the RSPCA, allowing dogs to wear dog coats and overheat is the same as leaving dogs in cars during hot weather, and anyone found doing it could be prosecuted.

Coats and other forms of clothing for dogs has become very popular of late, with trouser suits, hoodies and coats becoming available for dogs. Even some of the top fashion designers, including Vivienne Westwood, have designed clothing for dogs. Dog breeding experts claim however that coats for dogs are unnecessary, except in the case of the smallest dogs with short hair, or very thin dogs such as greyhounds.

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Mark Johnston stated:

There are very few occasions when an animal needs a coat, even in the recent cold weather.

Dogs have developed a very effective coat of their own, which will protect them from the elements. It is adjustable so they can raise the fur to control their temperature. Dressing them in a coat diminishes the animal’s ability to regulate their own body temperature and could be detrimental if the animal gets too hot.

Too high a temperature is more of a risk to the dog’s health than too low a temperature. Clothing could also rub and cause sores and if the animal is wearing it for a long time, it could cause skin conditions. Fashion-wise, coats are pointless for dogs.

The RSPCA also state that clothing for dogs is often unnecessary, with the RSPCA’s Helen Briggs stating:

Under the Animal Welfare Act, you are obliged to provide appropriate conditions and environments for your dog. So if you are slapping a great big coat on it when it really doesn’t need it, then that could cause it to suffer if it is overheating. It is the same as if you leave a dog in a car in hot weather.

Some breeds have been bred to have less fur, so in some cases it is quite appropriate for a dog to wear a coat in very cold weather. But if an owner is just doing it for a fashion statement or because they think it is cool, I would question that. If people are worried that their dog might be cold, it is worth getting some advice from their vet to see if it is appropriate or not.

1 Comment »

  1. I agree with the article, as dogs cant tell their owners with words whether they are infact too hot in a coat or too cold in the biting winter weather,it can be difficult to judge which is the case, espescially with dogs that are new to their owners.
    I found the longer you live with a dog the better you understand its way of communicating, some dogs may find it hard to ‘tell’ or communicate with their owners, so you have to look for the signs like panting & any dog that shivers in the cold needs a coat.

    Comment by warren — October 27, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

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