For certain breeds of dogs that aren’t naturally acclimatized to colder temperatures, a winter dog coat can be a sensible option to keep them warm during cold weather excursions. Though many people shy away from the idea of buying a coat for their dog and think of dog clothing as little more than a fashion statement, the reality is that winter dog coats are essential for keeping certain breeds warm enough to brave the cooler temperatures.

Winter dog coats come in many shapes, sizes, and materials, so it can be hard to decide which kind of coat is best for your dog. Finding a winter dog coat that doesn’t irritate or trouble your dog is definitely important, so watch out for tags in potentially irritating places and coats made from coarse or abrasive fabrics. Also consider coats with Velcro fasteners, because they tend to be less of a fuss than convincing your dog to put its paws through a coat’s armholes.

One of the hardest things when buying a winter coat for your dog is finding a coat that properly fits your pooch. Most coats come in one of four sizes, ranging through extra-small, small, medium, and large, but different manufacturers have different sizing standards. Always be aware that one company’s sizes might not match those from another company. Never use a coat that is too small for your dog and whenever possible, opt for designs that allow for personalized size adjustments.

So, how do you know if your dog needs a winter coat? If it shivers when you take it outside or flat out refuses to leave the house on cold days, then odds are your dog is feeling chilly and needs a winter coat. Short-haired dogs and smaller breeds are often the most susceptible to colder temperatures, but some larger dogs may also need protection from the cold. Long-haired breeds typically thrive in colder weather, but regardless of your dog’s size or length of hair, if you are unsure of whether or not it should be wearing a coat then consult your veterinarian.