Winter preparation

Winter is just around the corner and it is time to get out or buy boots, coats and other winter gear, for us and for our pets.

Every year, we see new ideas coming out for winter gear, and some of them are amazing. With the advancement of materials and production methods, we are seeing items that are easier to use and more appropriately protective each year.

Why did I say appropriately protective? There are items that don’t protect at all, and other items that over protect to the point of overheating the animal or preventing it from moving. Finding that balance in gear, especially with the exceptional range of weather we have in Winnipeg can make for a basket full of clothing for our pets.

I’ve seen more new ideas in shoes these past few years than in the decade before. One of my favorite products are the Apex boots from RC Pets. These boots fit like a sneaker, but unlike the dozens of different brands than I’ve worked with in the past, these ones actually fit, stay on, and do the job. They do have a molded sole that must stay oriented down, which in this case, the boot actually does. Unlike many previous ones, they are easy to put on in the proper orientation, and they stay on and lined up during the walk. They are not cheap, but worth every penny. This year, they have introduced an Arctic version that is warm enough for our coldest snaps.

For dogs with only a need for shorter trips, there are a lot of rubber options, from Paws boots (the ones that look like little balloons) which will keep the paws dry and thereby relatively warm (you can put a baby/youth sock on first for insulation if you like), to rubber dipped socks. For many dogs the rubber dipped socks work good, but on some, they slip off too easy (the balloon type boots stay on great because the opening, while easily expanded to fit over the paw, closes very tight).

There are the classic MuttLuks, which seem to get a little better each year, with more and different options, or the basic fleece boots, arctic fleece pouches with Velcro around the tops. Nothing wrong with these tried and true options.

Coats run the range from simple knit sweaters that your favourite aunt/grandma can make off a pattern, to parka’s fit for an assault on Mt. Everest. Most people end up with a range or clothing items that they move through as the weather changes. Finding ones that fit, though, that’s always the issue. People are generally the same size and proportions so S, M, L, XL, XXL are appropriate sizing for most people to find something “off the shelf”. But the fitment for a 25 dog is not simply a “M”. A Dachshund, French Bulldog or Whippet could all be 25lbs, but there is no way one coat would fit them all.

Coats have different ranges of size they accommodate, depending on how they close. Zippered ones need to fit your exact dog. Velcro ones are a lot more variable, depending on whether they close like a zipper or have chest pieces and belly bands that are adjustable. Sweaters may stretch quite a bit, and some winter jackets do as well, but finding coats that fit can be an effort, and many times the only one that fits well is not a style of colour you’d prefer, but for the pet’s sake, style be damned.

Like any seasonal purchase, the best time to shop is before the need hits. Stores put out stock early, and can sell out fast, and many seasonal items cannot be restocked. Waiting until you need it can sometimes mean missing out on getting the one that is best for your situation.

Our pets rely on us to keep them warm and safe, and proper equipment can help prevent injury or illness.

Scroll to Top