Protect your pal from the cold with specialized gear

Hardworking hunting dogs often need winter wear. Here’s how to suit Fido up

Despite their fur coats, dogs can still feel winter’s cold bite. And if their body’s core temperature drops too low, they’ll start shivering and possibly develop hypothermia, which can be fatal.

Fortunately, there are now high-tech garments that can help protect dogs from the wet and cold, allowing for safe and enjoyable times in frigid conditions. Here are some tips on suiting up your dog.

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ASSESSING

Each dog is unique and handles the cold in different ways. You know your dog best, and whether outerwear is needed. Consider factors such as your dog’s size, breed, coat, activity level and ability to acclimatize.

Protect your pal from the cold with specialized gear

DRYING

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Water accelerates cooling, especially in sub-zero temperatures. Specialty drying robes are available for wicking moisture out of wet dog hair and into the garment, minimizing heat loss. After drying your pup, you can protect it further from the frigid air with a dry, insulated garment.

FITTING

Choosing the correct size of garment for your dog is essential for performance, advises Amy Casella, senior product designer at Kurgo, which makes base layers and coats for active hunting dogs. “Sizes vary by brand, so don’t guess your dog’s size,” she says. “Measure it, then pick the right-sized garment based on the manufacturer’s charts.”

LAYERING

Where extreme cold is the norm, puffy parkas work well to reduce heat loss from your dog’s neck and core. A layering system works better in milder climates, allowing you to add layers on colder days and remove them when it becomes warmer.

CLEANING

Many dog jackets have a water-repellent layer that allows moisture to bead up and roll off, keeping your dog dry. Over time, however, the buildup of dirt, oils, dog hair and campfire smoke can inhibit the jacket’s ability to shed moisture. To clean the fabric and revive its water repellency, use specially designed products such Nikwax Tech Wash. Your dog—and nose—will appreciate the periodic scrub.