Thursday, February 3, 2011

To Coat or Not to Coat

Written by CP's Blog Intern Volunteer

For those of us in the East, this bitter winter with record snowfalls has been a tough winter for dog owners. As humorous as it is to watch your Cairn sink into snow that is deeper then he or she is tall, common sense kicks in and you realize that all this cold can’t be good for him or her. Right?

We’ve all seen the dog owners who bundle their best friends in coats during the winter to make sure they’re warm. Especially in winters like this it seems to make sense, not just to protect your dog from the low temperatures but also from catching cold. Yet, in an article at the New York Post, the American Veterenarian Association points out that dogs won’t catch cold without a coat because: “…there is no cold virus that affects them.”

With dogs unable to catch cold, surely they’re still at risk from exposure to the elements? Not according to veterinarian Jesse Webb from Juneau, Alaska who says that: “Just because we feel cold, it doesn’t mean our dogs do.” In fact, the New York Post article goes on to say that putting a coat on your dog can actually be dangerous! Certain dog breeds like Huskies self-regulate their own body temperature with fur that lifts up off their bodies or presses against it depending on the temperature. Putting a coat on such an animal would be unnatural and possibly lead to heatstroke.

While there are exceptions to this rule, such as small thin-haired breeds like the Chihuahua, for the most part dogs don’t need coats. They probably don’t even want them. Having attempted to put coats on my dogs in the past I can tell it’s an act they don’t look forward to and they seem quite happy for it to come off. While our desire to coat our dogs is a testament to how much they mean to us sometimes too much concern can be just as bad as too little.

Our picture is of a Cairn Terrier wearing a winter coat. The breed is a perfect example of a dog that may not need a man-made coat as it already possesses a double-layered coat with a soft, dense under coat and a harsh outer one. Putting a coat on your Cairn could actually harm it! So keep your cairn warm and dry but take these points into consideration.

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