Ernest and Pete are large, healthy golden retrievers with fur coats of their own. Yet one day last week my husband and I prepared to take them out for a winter walk and velcroed them into their cozy matching plaid coats. It was 19 degrees, with a wind chill that made it feel even colder. Yet we were only going  out for a brisk walk around the block, not a trek into the Arctic. The dogs probably didn’t need the extra layers. Were we being overindulgent? Or is wearing a doggy coat in the winter a wise practice that Ernest and Petey will appreciate, much like when  you were young and your mama told you to bundle up and don’t forget your scarf, even though you could barely move in your bulky snowsuit and none of the other kids at school wore scarves.

Some people love dressing their pets up in clothes and taking them out around town. I’m not one of them, but I do enjoy plopping a seasonal hat on their heads and bribing them with a biscuit to stay still long enough to snap a picture. I’ve had fun dressing them in reindeer antlers, Fourth of July headbands with red white and blue baubles, and classic argyle sweaters, just to post it on social media, because it’s cute. And someone invariably comments, “He looks so embarrassed!” I am certain that dogs feel emotions, such as happiness, loneliness, joy and fear. But I don’t think that embarrassment is one of them. If it was, would they futilely chase their tails, or take a bath in public?

Many dogs do need a coat in winter, such as short haired breeds and dogs who are sensitive to the cold. And many dogs could use boots to protect their feet from the ice and salt. When we let our dogs outside in the winter, Pete snowplows through the back yard and jumps and chases falling flakes. Ernest finds the perfect snow pile and plays king of the mountain. We limit the length of time they stay outside, especially when temperatures dip too low. But they love winter, far more than I do. And when it comes to their winter coats, why not? It feels good to take care of them and keep them warm. And I was able to snap a few cute pictures too!

Do your dogs wear coats? Tell us about the coats you like best. Which styles look the cutest? What ones fit the best, which are easiest to put on and off?