Protect Your Pooch

Pet Clothing … Yay Or Nay?
Original article published in Circa Magazine January – March 2014

Cute, stylish, and necessary? Well, some folks will say yes while others are sure to disagree. But the fact is yes, many dogs do need clothing to keep them safe and warm in the cold weather.

You will need to take several things into consideration when determining if your furry friend needs an extra fur coat this winter. It all depends on the breed, size, and age of your pet. If your pet is small or has a short coat such as a Chihuahua, Greyhound, or terrier, she may benefit from wearing a sweater or coat to stay warm in frigid temperatures. Dogs that have a thin coat or those that are groomed with shorter cuts will gain from an added layer. And of course, you want to take special caution with older dogs or those that are ill with diseases such as Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism, as they will also need to bundle up prior to exiting the home for a walk.

Many furrier dogs that were bred for cold weather climates, such as the Siberian Husky, Malamute, and Saint Bernard, do not require a sweater or coat as their thick coats provide enough warmth to protect them from extreme winter temperatures.

Fitting your dog with winter gear can be fun, but there is more to consider than just fashion. First and foremost, you must make sure that you are purchasing the right size for your dog and that the fit is right.

Unlike our clothing, there is not an industry standard of what a small, large, or extra-large size is with manufacturers of dog clothing, so therefore you should measure your dog prior to ordering. To determine the right size for your dog, know his weight, and then measure around his neck, around the largest part of his chest, and the distance from his neck to his waist.

Ideally, whatever clothing you choose for your dog, its fit should be snug, but not too tight, allowing for comfortable freedom of movement, and be easy to put on and take off. A properly fitting sweater or jacket should not drag on the ground, get caught on anything when she is walking or running, and cannot be pulled off by your dog. Additionally, the garment should end around the waist so your dog can easily “take care of business.”

Once you know your dog’s measurements, you can begin shopping for the perfect sweater, jacket, or party frocks. Before buying that adorable wool sweater, though, take into consideration that wool, while great for insulation, isn’t a material that you can simply throw in the washing machine after a fun day at the dog park. Also, will it make your dog itch? Look for materials that can be easily washed and that, while snuggly and warm, also breathe. Consider a blend of washable wool and cotton or an acrylic.

While the need for a sweater or jacket may be easy to understand, please remember that boots are also important protective gear for your pooch in the harsher weather. When it snows, your dog’s feet are exposed to multiple hazards, including ice that can form balls between the webbing of his feet and salted sidewalks and driveways, and the salt used on sidewalks, driveways, and roads can often burn his feet pads. In addition, when your dog is cleaning the pads of his feet, there is the risk of him ingesting chemicals from the salt and de-icers.

Now that you know what your furry friend needs to stay warm, cozy, and safe this winter, the fun begins. There are a lot of colors and styles available, so have fun shopping for your pup!