Even Alaskan dogs must dress for the weather

We're Alaskans. Cold and snow doesn't keep us, or our canine companions, inside. As you're donning your coat, mittens, hat and warm boots, have you ever wondered if you should be dressing your dog for the weather too? In some cases, that answer may just be "yes."

Here's some general tips on which dogs could benefit from an extra layer of warmth on chilly winter walks:

1. Small breed dogs tend to get cold quickly because they can't generate and retain enough body heat to stay warm. They may even need light sweaters inside during the cold winter months.

2. Dogs with short legs may get cold bellies from being so close to the snow and cold ground.

3. Breeds, like poodles, who may have naturally long coats but are groomed to have short coats may need a coat because clipping the coat short reduces the ability of their coats to retain heat.

4. Dogs with lean bodies, such as greyhounds and whippets, can benefit from extra protection on cold days.

5. Elderly, sick or injured dogs will need help staying warm if their bodies can't regulate temperature.

What about booties? If your dog often stops to lift his or her paws or to dig out ice from between the pads of their paws, then booties are the way to go. Yes, they take some getting used to but most dogs tend to ignore them once they're engaged with the sights, scents and sounds of the outside. And just think of the hilarious videos you can post of your dog the first time he or she tries out booties.

Be sure to not overdress your dog. If your dog is going on a casual evening stroll, she'll need a warmer coat than if you two are headed out on a fast-paced walk or run. Your dog can't shed layers like you can.

Choosing a jacket with reflective material is always a good choice for the dark Alaska winters. Even if you walk during the day, reflective material will make your dog more visible on overcast, snowy or foggy days.

There is no shortage of available outer layers for dogs on the market. Check your local pet supply stores and online to find the right jacket(s) and booties to keep your best friend warm and cozy on winter adventures.

Laura Atwood is the public relations coordinator for the Anchorage Animal Care and Control.