Thursday, December 24, 2009
By Linda Cole
For some dogs, winter clothing is a must. If you see them shivering, they are cold and could be at risk for hypothermia, but don't be fooled into thinking any coat will do. Not all winter clothes for dogs will keep them warm, and no one wants to spend a fortune trying to find what works and what doesn't work. I have dogs who do need coats to stay warm when they are outside. The trick is finding the right coat or sweater that actually keeps them warm. The best winter clothes for dogs aren't expensive and if you layer their clothes, you can keep your dog toasty.
Winter clothes for dogs need to be warm, but also easy to put on and take off. I've tried winter coats with zippers located on the underside of the dog. In order to zip up the coat, you have to roll the dog over on her back or hold her up on two legs. If a coat, jacket or sweater looks cute on your dog but it's not warm and functional, it's not worth the money. The best winter clothes for dogs can be put on quickly and easily, and should keep your dog warm and dry.
Dogs lose heat through their paws and ears. When buying winter dog clothes, look for coats or jackets that have a hood you can pull up over their ears. In my part of the country, we get cold temps that hover around 10 degrees and go down to subzero temperatures at the height of winter, with wind chills that are dangerous for humans and animals.
What works best for my dogs is a hooded fleece/quilted homemade coat and an outer dog blanket coat that is windproof and waterproof. If you aren't into sewing your own, a quality hooded winter or fleece coat will do the same job as my homemade fleece/quilted coat. On really cold days, I add a T-shirt, sweater or sweatshirt under their other coats. When layering, keep in mind an outer coat will need to be a little larger to fit over other clothes if the Velcro® fastener or snaps can't be adjusted when needed for a comfortable fit.
Winter clothes for dogs should include booties to help keep their feet warm and also give protection to the pads of their feet. Walking over frozen snow and ice can cut into their pads which can lead to infections. You can find inexpensive booties, but if they aren't waterproof and they won't keep their feet warm or dry. Look for dog boots that are lined with fleece and have a ribbed top. Booties are also great for summer use to help prevent accidental cuts from rocky terrain or broken glass. Use them to help prevent scratching on tender skin and protect injuries on the leg or paw. They are available in different lengths depending on your dog's need.
The best winter clothes for dogs aren't necessarily the most expensive. I have found affordable fleece coats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters at discount stores and online pet stores. The problem with buying online is the picture and description don't always meet expectations and you can't feel the coat until it arrives, so make sure you can return an item if it's not what you expected. A coat, jacket or any clothing you put on your dog should fit comfortably and not restrict their movements. Hoods or hats should not be able to fall down and cover their eyes so it's hard for them to see.
Winter dog clothes can be found at most retail stores that sell pet products and online pet supply companies. Sweaters and T-shirts start around $5.00 and up, winter coats, sweatshirts and windproof/waterproof dog blankets are $10 and up, and good quality dog booties begin at $10 and up.
I used to think dressing dogs in coats was silly and unnecessary. That was before my terrier/mix puppies joined my family 14 years ago. There's no denying that they get cold in the winter. I've spent years searching for the best winter clothes for dogs, and have finally found the right combination for my dogs and environment. It may take a little time to find what works best for your dog, but with hundreds of styles and prices to choose from, the task is easier now than it was in the past.
Read more articles by Linda Cole