Dog Days: Keeping Warm in the Winter

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Is dog clothing really necessary?

In this edition of Dog Days, we seek the answer to the common question, ‘Is dog clothing really necessary?’ Having a small dog, I buy clothing to keep her warm on walks outside during the cold winter months. When my husband first met my dog he asked, “Is the pink, puffy jacket really necessary?” The answer is yes! Minus the pink and puffy, many dogs need to be bundled up during Seattle’s cold weather.

Image from Collegecandy.comSome dog owners are reluctant to put clothing on a dog even if they are shaking after exposure to colder temperatures. One reason might be that it feels odd to do, or the person might not be aware that this can be an issue with internal temperature. Either way, your dog may be as uncomfortable to the cold temperatures as you would be if you went outside without bundling up. In Seattle, it’s rare that we get to the freezing temperature levels, but we do have lots rainy and cold days in the winter and early spring. Regardless of how cold it gets, it doesn’t hurt to put clothing on your dog when you are outside for any period of time when it’s cold.

Different Breeds and Dog Traits:

Depending on the type of dog that you own, there may be more or less vulnerability to cold temperatures. Characteristics veterinarians say to look for include breed, age, size and length of fur coat. Smaller dog breeds, especially ones that are on the lighter side (less than 20 pounds), toy breeds, and short/thin hair coated dogs can only do so much to conserve their internal heat. Vets recommend dogs that have any of these characteristics benefit from wearing a sweater or jacket to keep warm.

According to PetMD and a local Seattle vet clinic, larger breeds and dogs with dense fur coats do not need the added insulation from clothing. In fact, they could become uncomfortable with the increased level of heat and face physical overheating! Examples of dogs that are well-equipped for colder temperatures include Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies.

Photo by Image Street.Finding the Right Fit:

The first thing to consider is the type of material that you want to buy. Keep in mind how washable and comfortable the material will be for your pooch. Cotton, cotton/poly or acrylic are good choices since they are easy to care for. Wool is the warmest of the clothing options, however, be mindful that some kinds of wool can be difficult to wash and could also be itchy for your dog.

Next, just like you want to have clothing that fits well, your dog will appreciate that too. It is important to measure your dog to make sure that you know that size that will work best. Usually the clothing pieces at pet stores will have a reference of chest size, neck and neck to waist distance.  You don’t want to buy clothing that is going to be too tight or dragging on the ground. Knowing your dog’s weight can also help to know which size will fit best (XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL). Usually stores won’t allow dogs to try on the clothing before buying; you can always bring you dog with you to get a good estimate of whether or not the article of clothing will fit. Clothing should be snug enough to keep your dog warm.

Where to Buy Dog Clothing:

Pet stores are the best places to buy clothing for your dog. An added bonus, you can bring your dog inside with you. Some places that carry a good variety of items are PetSmart, Petco, Target, and Walmart. If you know the size your dog generally wears, Amazon is also a great place to look.

If you love shopping local and supporting small businesses, check out these stores:

Seahawks Puffer Vest by Bow Wow and Woofs.
Seahawks Puffer Vest by Bow Wow and Woofs.

Lastly, one important thing to consider is to check for additional pieces on the clothing such as zippers, buttons, tags, etc. To be safe, there shouldn’t be anything that could be chewed off and potentially swallowed. This is in consideration for the safety of your dog.

Now you are ready to go shop for the perfect piece of clothing for your dog. Trust me, your pup will thank you for the added warmth!