Pet owners will always have varied opinions about dressing animals up for fun or aesthetics, but we can all agree on the benefits of protective clothing. You wouldn’t go out in harsh weather without preparing for it, so why should your pet have to? If the forecast, has you reaching for an umbrella and your raincoat, there’s a good chance that your dog needs protection, too. Of course, being “prepared” for rain has different meanings for different breeds of dog, since they were bred for different climates. Large breed dogs with double-layer coats, which were bred for cold regions that get regular rain and snow, can usually go out in any weather without needing a jacket. They have a built-in raincoat that will protect their skin from getting wet and cold.
Dogs of smaller breeds, dogs with shorter legs, and dogs with single-layer coats, on the other hand, probably need a raincoat when you take them out during any amount of rain. These types of dogs get cold easily in the rain, just like we do. Their natural coats not only fail to protect them from the rain but also keep them cold if they get wet, because they take a long time to dry. Attentive owners of dogs of these breeds should always have rain gear ready for their pups, and that starts with a good dog raincoat. You can use our list of the best dog raincoats available to find something high-quality, protective, and stylish for your pet.
What is a Dog Raincoat?
Dog raincoats are garments specifically designed to fit dogs and protect them from the rain. They vary in size, coverage, and material, just like human raincoats do.
Keeping a dog warm in the rain involves two major steps, so dog raincoats have two main components:
- The outer layer - The first part of keeping a dog protected from the rain is keeping them from getting wet. While it can be hard to protect them 100% from water, the outer layer of a raincoat can keep most of the rain that hits them from soaking through. This is accomplished with waterproof materials like nylon, waterproof canvas, and Gore-Tex.
- The inner layer - The second part of protecting your dog in the rain is keeping them warm. Even with the waterproof outer layer of the raincoat shielding them, some parts of their body are still likely to get wet, and it’s also likely to be colder outside when it’s raining. Inner layers made from fleece or lambswool (or synthetic fleece or lambswool) help your pet stay warm and cozy inside their raincoat.
Dog Raincoat Types
You will find virtually infinite options when shopping for a dog raincoat. Although they all have the same general purpose, there are many variations in style, including:
- Poncho style - These dog raincoats are cut like ponchos, meaning they can just slip over the dog’s head. Even though some come with hoods, they don’t offer the best coverage, since the entire underside is open. However, since they’re so easy to put on, this could be a good style for dogs who are resistant to wearing clothes. Depending on how heavy the rain is, this amount of coverage may be sufficient.
- Full-torso jacket - This style of dog raincoat is more fitted to the torso. They usually cover the dog’s entire back and part of their chest and belly, and you put them on by slipping it over the dog’s head and zipping it up or attaching the velcro.
- Full-coverage raincoat - This is the most protective dog raincoat style, but also the most complicated to use. These have “sleeves” or “legs”, whichever you prefer to call them, as well as hoods; your dog’s limbs, torso, and head are all covered, with just enough freedom to see and use the bathroom. It can be a bit of a hassle to put this on a dog, but once you do, they are totally protected from the rain.
There are also different options for material:
- Waterproof only - Some dog raincoats only have one layer, made from a waterproof fabric like the ones we mentioned earlier. This is especially common in poncho style raincoats. They can protect your dog from some water, but probably won’t keep them warm. Waterproof material also tends to be less fitted than other fabrics, so there may be gaps between these coats and your dog’s body.
- Fleece only - Other single-layer dog raincoats are made from fleece or other soft material, with the sole concern of keeping your dog warm. We wouldn’t recommend it in a downpour, but if there’s very light rain, these coats can keep your pup warm and mostly dry.
- Double later - The option suited for the greatest range of situations is dog raincoats with two layers, so that both jobs are taken care of and your dog is protected from everything. When you think about it, this is almost always the option that humans choose - you wear regular clothes under a raincoat, or a multi-layered raincoat, so your outfit is both warm and waterproof.
How to Choose a Dog Raincoat
You should try to choose a dog raincoat that suits your dog’s needs as closely as possible. The first thing to look at is the size. Unlike human clothes, dog clothes don’t really have standard sizing, so you can’t rely on terms like “small”, “medium”, and “large”. Even if you think your dog is medium-sized, they may not have the measurements for a medium raincoat from a particular brand, so you should always check the sizing chart and be prepared to measure your dog to find the right fit.
While your dog’s needs come first, you can also factor your personal preference into the choice of dog raincoat. They are often available in different colors and patterns, so once you’ve found a size and cut that will work for your dog, you can choose the cutest raincoat or the one that stands out the most. You may even be able to find one that looks like yours, so you and your pet can match on your rainy walks.
What to Consider When Buying a Raincoat
There are a few important things to factor into your decision when buying a dog raincoat. The main ones are:
- Local weather - You can choose an appropriate type of dog raincoat for the weather your dog is likely to encounter by considering what’s usual for the area. If you live in a warm climate that gets light rain, like Hawaii, you might only want a waterproof poncho and not be concerned with fleece layers. If you live somewhere that often gets heavy storms, a double-layer raincoat with more coverage will protect your dog better.
- Ease of use - Some dog raincoats are much easier to put on than others. It may not seem like a big deal to put a full-coverage raincoat on your dog once, but if your dog hates being dressed or if you get rain on most days, it could end up being a problem. Think about how easy it will be to put the raincoat on your dog, based on style and their cooperation, and how often you’ll have to do it.
- Age - We talked earlier about how different breeds have different requirements for “protection”, but age is a factor, too. Very young puppies and senior dogs likely need more protection, more layers, and more warmth in the rain, even if they are a sturdy or cold-weather breed.
Unless you can guarantee that you’ll never need to walk your dog in the rain, it’s a good idea to have a dog raincoat handy for them. This will protect them from getting cold and wet, which is at best unpleasant and at worst increases their risk of illness. Our top ten list has some of the best dog raincoats on the market, so there’s sure to be one there that will suit your pup.
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