dog athlete

Can a dog coat help my athletic dog?

dog performance

Can a dog coat help my athletic dog compete?

You have an athletic dog and you want to help them do their best. Can a dog coat help?

Maybe so. It depends on lots of factors; fur length and color, muscle mass, face shape and size of dog, as well as their level and type of activity.  External factors play a part in the decision too.  What time of year is it? Are the activities inside or outside?

You’ll  need to decide what’s best based on the lifestyle and demands placed on your dog.

You have an active dog

Maybe your dog’s job is to be your companion and hang with you. They might not need much help to stay sound and healthy.

However, if you want your dog to compete in agility, go on runs and hike trails with you, or any number of other physically demanding activities, they need to be treated like the athletes they are. The more active they are, the more factors you’ll need to consider to help them be their best.

Factors that effect your dog’s performance

1) Amount and color of fur. Would you believe that a smooth coated black dog like a Doberman has a more difficult time cooling off in the sun than a fluffy white dog like a Samoyed? It’s true!  That fluffy fur insulates out the heat when the weather is warm, just like it insulates in the heat when the weather is cold.

Smooth coated dogs don’t get the benefit of insulation. Plus, smooth black coats like those of Dobes or Rotties hold onto heat since black absorbs light instead of reflecting it.

2) Muscle.  Muscle produces a lot of heat.  For that reason, very muscular dogs like Rottweilers and bulldogs have a harder time in the heat than slender dogs like greyhounds or chihuahuas.  Add activity with lots of muscle use and the heat production goes up.

In cold weather, muscle use can help keep your canine friend warm. You do have to watch that your dog’s muscles are warmed up enough so they don’t injure themselves. Just like humans, dogs need to have their muscles gently warmed up before they do more strenuous activity.

3) Face shape.  Brachycephalic (“smashed face”) dogs aren’t able to cool themselves as well since their shorter faces aren’t as efficient when it comes to panting.  Dogs with a more “normal” or longer snout are better able to use panting to cool off.

4) Size.  Larger dogs have a more difficult time cooling off than small dogs, but an easier time staying warm.  They have a surface/muscle ratio that is lower than that of a small dogs so that the heat dissipates more slowly.  Smaller dogs with higher ratios have more surface area to dissipate heat.  This makes them more heat tolerant but less cold tolerant.

5) Environment. If your activities are in a temperature controlled building, your dog may not need help staying warm or cooling off. However, if the two of you are working outside, you’ll have to consider time of year, temperature, weather, etc. Either a cool coat in warmer conditions or a winter coat in cooler conditions could make a difference.

How can a dog coat help your athletic dog?

In warm weather, a dog cool coat can help keep your dog from overheating and becoming fatigued.  If your dog feels good, they can perform their best.

In cooler weather, your dog could be at risk of injuries.  Muscles that are cold aren’t as elastic and injuries become more likely.  A coat can keep those muscles warm until they have had a chance to warm up. Plus, shivering uses up energy that could be used to excel in your sport.

How do you know what your dog needs?

You know your dog.  If you consider the conditions you’re going to be working in, you can decide how best to help. You can observe for situations that could be improved with a coat.

If you keep your dog as comfortable as possible, they are more likely to enjoy your activities and stay healthy. Athletes perform best when they can concentrate on their physical performance instead of outside factors. And isn’t that your goal; to  have a happy, healthy, athletic dog?

For more info about helping your athletic dog succeed read this article from Animal Wellness Magazine.

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