I would not be writing this blog if we didn’t have LABRADORS! Coats and sweaters are GREAT if you have a short-haired or toy breed of dog. But Labs have the thickest coat there is—we call it a “double” coat amongst breeders, and you can find it described in the AKC Breed Standard. If you are curious about it, you can view the standard here:
They were bred to swim in icy waters that are several degrees below freezing—, AND they can dry out afterwards on their own! (if you’d like to learn more about the history and development of the Labrador Retriever see my blog on “The History of the Labrador Retriever”): https://emlabradors.com/2018/07/the-history-of-the-labrador-retriever/
BUT if I were walking with my Lab in below zero weather, I would not stress about it. (if you’ll even be walking yourself in those temperatures!!) But realize, they may still over-heat with a coat on, depending on the level of activity they are engaging in.
Many people also ask me about dog “booties” at this time of year. I only recommend them if your dog is walking on salt in a city or suburban area, or their paws are sweating and freezing to the pavement or other surface you are walking on. These are the ones I’m most familiar with and that I hear good things about: https://amzn.to/2R96Qqn
…and by all means, if they begin to pant hard with a coat, take it off!
I do not recommend softening of paws. Our dog’s paws are meant to be tough and rough to withstand walking on all types of surfaces such as gravel, hot stones or rocks, and ice and snow. I’d hate to see your dog get a gash or puncture wound or bruise because their paws are too soft. So use good sense, be safe, and enjoy this cold weather with your dog!!!