Poodle Mammoths

Maybe my dogs won’t need their fleece-lined synthetic coats this winter after all. Oh, I’m sure it’s going to be as cold as ever and we’re not going to winter in south Florida. It’s just that my stupid clippers are broken and the poodles are getting shaggier by the day.Two poodles wearing coats and playing in the snow

Good thing I chose veterinary medicine and not small-engine repair as a profession. I’ve disassembled most of the dog clippers at our clinic in a quest to figure out what’s wrong with mine and – tada – when put back together none of them worked. It would have made much more sense to just buy a new set to start with, but I’ve more than a wee bit of stubborn Scottish blood.

So Cliff and Tate, our goofy big poodles, now resemble woolly mammoths; neither in need of extra warmth nor able to fit into their overcoats, even if they did. Do dogs really need winter clothing anyway?

I’ve researched the issue a fair bit because it seems odd that a dog or cat can happily laze around in a heated house yet seem just as comfortable outside in the deep freeze of Canadian winters.  Other than stating the obvious – big and furry stays warmer than little and hairless — nobody is offering up explanations. In the end, it seems wise to put coats on thin-coated dogs, regardless of size. Booties are good if the terrain is rough or salt-coated or the trek is long. Common sense stuff really.

It’s probably not necessary to discuss why trying to put a coat on a cat is unlikely to have a happy outcome – more common sense. But it would make a good You Tube video, no doubt.

For those dog breeds such as poodles that will grow a long thick coat if left unclipped, there are choices. If clipped, they need coats. If left to grow long, they need brushing.  I’ve seen way too many unclipped, uncombed, sore and grumpy dogs with matts everywhere, explained away because it’s too cold to shave them.

Fix the clippers or hunker down with the brush? It’s nice to have choices, sort of.

Dr. Fiona Gilchrist

December 2011