Some Dogs Need a Winter Wardrobe, does yours?
A Key sign that your dog is feeling uncomfortably chilly is a hesitance to go outside to relieve himself. And if he is tracking you like a heat-seeking missile, lying on you or in contact with you, it’s another sign he is having trouble maintaining body heat. And of course shivering is a clear Red flag.
If your dog is visibly chilled, is a small or toy breed, has a short or thin coat, is older, does not get around well or has a chronic health condition, a sweater or jacket may the best thing for him, even when he is indoors.
Dogs less likely to need sweaters are large breeds with dense coats. In fact, most dogs bred for cold climates can actually overheat in a sweater or jacket.
Overweight dogs often don’t need extra insulation, but breeds like the Chihuahua, many of the terrier and pinscher breeds, and the Greyhound, are examples of dogs that often need a little help staying warm.
Picking the Right Sweater for Your Dog
When picking a sweater for your dog, I recommend a fabric that can be easily washed and dried, and one that won’t itch or irritate your pet’s skin. Measure the circumference of your dog’s neck and chest and the length of his body from neck to waist, plus take his weight, so that you can select clothing that fits.
A dog sweater should be snug, but not tight. The length should end at about the waist, leaving the dog’s back end free. The neck and leg holes should be big enough that your dog can move freely, but not so big that he can pull his head or a leg out.
I recommend plain sweaters without zippers, hooks, buttons or other embellishments that can be both annoying to your dog and a choking hazard. The sweater should be easy to put on and take off without a struggle.
If you are like me, you will also want to look for sweaters made of natural material, like this Organic, recycled 100% cotton sweater I found for Lenny.
You may have a few misses before you hit on the right size and fit, so either take your dog with you so you can try things on him, or shop at retailers with liberal return policies. If you put a sweater on your dog, especially indoors, check regularly to make sure she’s still comfortable. I recommend taking sweaters on and off every few hours to prevent overheating or an itchy rash.
Keep in mind that not every dog who needs a coat will wear one. It is just too unnatural for some pups. So do not force your dog to wear any item of clothing if it means she cannot act or move naturally.
One last thing: dogs rarely, if ever, need pants. And boots are also unnecessary in most instances, especially since dogs feel the ground with their paws, and anything that interferes with their ability to sense their environment is not a great idea.
By Dr. Karen S. Becker
Paul Ebeling, Editor
Have a terrific weekend, stay warm!