Ecofriendly Dog Gear for Winter

Protect those toe beans!

By Alison Cagle

December 10, 2018


Photo courtesy of Billy Wolf

The changes come fast for dogs once the last leaves fall: Ears start shivering, noses and paws become raw, and precious daylight is lost, leaving dog owners with the onerous task of convincing reluctant furries to go out for cold, damp walks. It is officially winter!

Our canine partners may have evolved to enjoy human company, but their bodies are ill-adapted to walking on icy concrete or being cooped up inside. All but the hardiest breeds need protection from extreme cold, and most dogs will need indoor stimulation during those exasperating wintry months. Happily, many dog retailers offer cold-weather gear that’s not only safe for your dog but also healthy for the planet. When it comes to choosing ecofriendly products, it’s helpful to remember that dogs’ bodies are as sensitive to harmful materials as humans' are (and often more so).

"We forget about the overall toxic burden on our pets. A huge contributor of [toxic exposure] can be the toys that dogs put in their mouths,” says Rob Ryan of Honest Pet Products. “They’re salivating, reconstituting, and taking that in. When you look at the environmental impact, it’s really important that we support products that are manufactured safely, since that has a huge environmental impact as well as the afterlife of the products, whether in a landfill or composted back into the ground."

The Environmental Working Group found that dogs are contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) at levels 2.4 times higher than those found in people. Unless a dog’s human is extra vigilant, exposure to pollutants can come from pretty much anywhere: contact with chemically treated lawns, drinking tap water full of disinfectant byproducts, or eating contaminated dog food. Of course, the chances of exposure get compounded by our consumer choices. Since pet gear companies typically don’t follow rigorous environmental standards, conventional dog gear often incorporates petrochemicals and other nonsustainable materials. If you’re already opting for an ecofriendly lifestyle, pushing your agenda on your pup can help promote sustainable industry practices while also keeping Fido healthy.

Here are 10 ecofriendly dog products that will keep your best friend warm, busy, and/or protected—not to mention stylish!—throughout winter.

Natural Dog Company Paw Wax ($14–$27)

Salted streets or icy, rocky terrain can be damaging to dogs’ paw pads, which become cracked and dry in extreme weather. Wax up those toe beans with Natural Dog Company’s PawTection paw wax. It’s made from an organic, vegan blend of natural waxes and oils that protect sensitive paws from harsh elements.

Chilly Dog Black Southwest Dog Sweater ($33–$47)

Sometimes you just need a cozy sweater and a warm lap. Chilly Dog’s artfully designed Black Southwest Dog Shawl is earthy, stylish, and hand-knitted by artisans in South America. Based in Philadelphia, the owners source their products using fair-trade standards and pay their artistic partners a livable wage for their beautifully crafted designs.

Love Thy Beast Bamboo Knit Fleece Hoodie ($46–$56)

Bundle up in your favorite hoodie and have your dog match your style with Love Thy Beast’s cute bamboo hoodie. Featuring a helpful harness opening in the back (who wants to take off their hoodie once it’s on for the night?), the hoodie’s materials are sourced from sustainable bamboo, which regenerates quickly and uses less irrigation. Love Thy Beast is a “cool little pack” in New York City that values community-building and “close working relationships with our fellow pet loving companies.”

Pacific Spirit Raincoat ($28–$48)

No one ever says, "I just love walking around in a freezing wet towel!" Dogs can relate: They understandably loathe wet fur (even those puddle-crazed Labradors). Keep the rain off your pet with Pacific Spirit’s cheerfully colored, ecofriendly raincoat. The fabric is polyurethane laminate, a nontoxic material that repels water yet remains soft and flexible. Extra helpful is the light-reflecting collar stripe, for when nighttime starts dropping at 4:30 P.M.

Billy Wolf Dog Coats ($68–$74)

Finally, you can tell your neighbors that your dog’s chic coat came from a “fine K-9 coatery.” Own the streets with these waterproof, hand-stitched-in-the-USA coats from boutique dog outfitter Billy Wolf. “Everything nowadays is throwaway fashion,” says designer Lyndsey Drago. “We produce our materials locally to reduce our carbon footprint, and our designs stay classic 10 years after you buy them.” The frontier-inspired outerwear is lined with soft sherpa (synthetic) wool, and some even sport handy pockets for doggy bags or vintage pocket watches. Make it work!

K&H Lectro-Soft Outdoor Heated Bed ($58)

Looking to cut back on winter utility bills? A heated dog bed is an energy-efficient option for keeping your dog warm without heating the whole house. K&H is a longtime maker of heated animal beds and uses thermostat-controlled technology that only heats up under the pressure of your dog’s body. Especially helpful for arthritic seniors (the padding is made with orthopedic foam), the bed is also waterproof and comes with a free fleece blanket. As always with electric pet gear, never leave your dog unattended while using it.

Purrfect Play Wool Dog Blanket ($33–$80)

What’s better than a puppy-soft blanket made from natural wool? One that’s lovingly hand-quilted in the Midwest from upcycled sweaters! Purrfect Play’s wool pet blankets are excellent for wrapping up shivering dogs on cold mornings. Each one is completely unique, and the company is dedicated to offsetting its carbon footprint by donating to a local land-preservation fund. Five percent of each sale goes to a no-kill shelter or rescue organization.

Honest Pet’s Eco Tugger Dog Toy ($16–$27)

When the weather’s too stormy to go out, distracting your dog becomes top priority real quick. Deter cabin-fever-induced destruction with an eco toy that can withstand days of play. Hemp is an excellent fabric for dog toys, as it’s one of the strongest natural fibers on Earth; plus, it’s naturally antimicrobial. The Eco Tugger comes in three sizes and is ideal for tugging your dog around the house. 

Braided Cotton Rope Retriever Roll ($9)

Power chewers sit on thrones made from the innards of mangled toys and look down their muzzles at humans’ futile attempts to keep them occupied. If you’re searching for next-level toys made from natural yet durable material, check out the Braided Cotton Rope Retriever Roll. This cotton rope is hand-braided into a thick, tight cylinder, to be played with as is or (if you’re feeling wily) pried open for inserting hard-to-reach treats. Natural rope toys are meant to fray over time, flossing your dog’s teeth and removing unhealthy plaque while maintaining their shape. For teething puppies, try soaking the roll in chicken broth or water, freeze it, then give it to them to soothe sore gums. May the strongest tug win!

Beginnings Organic Plush Squeaker Toys ($9)

For the ultra-organic-minded, the Beginnings Lucy Rabbit and assorted friends are adorable, ecofriendly choices for indoor playtime. You can’t get more eco than this: Completely organic, the non-GMO materials are farmed without pesticides, using renewable fuel sources and conservation of soil and water; fertilized using bioengineering or ionized radiation; and processed with organic soybean softening (as opposed to petroleum-based softening on conventional pet toys). The array of plush animals are also cute to boot. Recommended for puppies or gentler dogs who aren’t looking so much to murder toys, but rather to terrorize then sleep on top of them.