Small Dog Winter Clothing
“WOW! My little dog HATES the cold.” My DMs get flooded with this statement after someone sees Oliver out on winter adventures. But most little dogs don’t hate THE cold, they hate BEING cold. Once I saw how much Oliver loved exploring the great outdoors I knew just packing it in in the winter and waiting for spring wasn’t going to be an option for us. Plus, wintertime is personally my favorite season to hike in. Thus, began the saga of figuring out the proper way to dress him for chilly outdoor adventures. Before you head out into the cold, check out the thermometer and dress your pup up for the winter weather. Here’s how I keep Oliver warm:
One light layer or fleece should suffice. My go to is the Voyagers K9 Apparel Tummy Warmer. It’s super easy to take on and off (no dealing with leg holes) and they do a great job of offering breed specific and custom sizes.
This is when I like to double up! Usually, I put a layer underneath his Tummy Warmer and I’m particularly fond of custom made fleece turtlenecks (cute dog photo op!). Threadz N Tails is a great shop to look at for these. They allow you to select from a wide array of fabric and fit options. My other go-to for 30 degree temps is the Hurtta Body Warmer. This is a thin foil lined suit that helps reflect your dog’s body temperature to keep them warm. Hurtta does an incredible job with sizing, as well, basing theirs on your dog’s back length. They also have an option for short-legged pups like Oliver! Oliver is generally very warm in the Body Warmer alone, down to about 30 degrees.
Now we’re getting into the ‘my dog hates being outside’ territory! For these temps, Oliver is almost exclusively in his Hurtta Extreme Warmer Insulated Parka. It includes the same foil liner as the body suit and even comes equipped with a snood to keep your pups ears warm! Again, Hurtta’s size selection is vast and their products come with many adjustment straps to help you get the perfect fit. Making sure your dog’s gear is snug is a key to keeping them warm. A cold draft can defeat the purpose of a jacket instantly. If the temperature drops below the 30 degree mark, I often double up the Body Warmer and Extreme Parka.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is keeping Oliver dry is as important as keeping him warm. If it’s raining out, he is usually in two layers in hopes that only one gets wet! My go-to jacket is (surprise) the Hurtta Slush Combat Suit. I like this one more than many others on the market because it covers all four legs completely. If your dog gets wet on a hike remember to remove their wet clothes as soon as you’re back to the car. No one likes being soggy!
I’m pretty sure I’ve tried every type of boot on the market in search of one that works on Oliver’s tiny paws. What I’ve learned? Almost none are functional for little pups. Any hard rubber-soled boot is too stiff for a 10 lb dog. They don’t bend at the ankle properly no matter what I do and they are incredibly uncomfortable even for the most tolerant pup. Insulated soft boots just get water logged from melting snow and puddles. Boots also cover up a pup’s most valuable traction device – their claws. Therefore, more often than not I turn to Mushers Secret to protect Oliver’s paws in the wintertime. It’s a highly effective balm you rub on the bottom of your dog’s paws which prevents snow buildup in-between their pads. If we are heading out on an adventure in deep powder I will put him in soft nylon booties from dogbooties.com. These booties are the ones used on sled dogs during endurance races like the Iditarod. They come in a wide array of sizes and the Velcro is stretchy so you can get a tight fit without worrying about circulation loss.
After years of trial and error, I believe the above guidelines to be the best plan of attack for getting your pup outside and loving winter explorations. However, I always pack an extra layer (or two) just in case! Winter weather can be pretty unpredictable and there’s nothing worse than seeing your small pup shiver as you turn around and head back to the car for warmth. So go ahead, layer your pup up and watch their joy as they bound through the snow or zoom across the frozen earth. Be sure to share your adventures with Oliver and me – we’d love to see them!