Saturday, January 2, 2010
By Ruthie Bently
Everyone has been hit by the bad economy and I have come up with a wonderful way to help dress your dog, without having to spend a lot of money. This will work whether you are looking for a t-shirt, sweater or winter coat for your own dog.
My boyfriend was recently laid off and money has been tight lately. However, we have always been thrifty. Most of our household heat comes from a wood stove, we grow our own vegetables and raise chickens for their eggs, go to garage and yard sales during warmer weather, and when making trips into town we try to carpool with other family members. Although our winter wardrobes have been taken care of and the cats have longer hair coats so don’t need any outdoor clothing, my American Staffordshire Terrier, Skye, is different.
Skye is on medication, and one of the side effects is a hair coat that is thinner and shorter than normal. While her hair does get longer when it gets colder, it isn’t what it could be. Skye will forgive me for saying this, but she is a wimp when it comes to cold. At night she will burrow under the blankets so that only her nose is sticking out, and she stays that way all night long. The problem for me is my dear little wimp loves to go for rides with me, no matter what the weather. I don’t take her when it is too cold, but she has to see the vet every six months for tests. Since the vet is an hour away, I have to be able to take her with me during cold weather, and she needs to be warm enough.
I stumbled on the solution to dressing my dog on a budget when I was in a little resale shop this summer. While going through the clothing racks I found a child’s sweatshirt and wondered if it might fit Skye. The sleeves looked a bit long, but the chest was wide and it had a hood, which was a plus because it would keep the wind out of her short ears.
Measuring your dog for clothes should be done while they are standing. For the length, you should measure from the base of their neck to the base of their tail. It helps to also measure the dog’s leg from the shoulder to the wrist (carpal). Use the leg measurement for the sleeve length so your dog won’t be tripping over the sleeves. I also measure the width between Skye’s legs which helps determine the chest size I need, as she is a deep-chested dog.
The main difference between clothes made for us and those made for dogs is that human clothes sometimes fit your dog better if they are put on backwards. For example, a t-shirt with a picture on the front gets worn so the picture is on the dog’s back. Jackets get put on and zipped up the dog’s back. If your dog is a bit touchy about trying on or wearing clothes, use a treat such as the CANIDAE Snap-Bits™ to help get them dressed.
Some resale shops do not take returns especially if the item is on sale. Make sure you take a tape measure and your measurements along with you, as most shops will not let you bring the dog in. Don’t limit yourself to resale shops, however; also check yard sales and your local recycling center if they take clothing. Also, many thrift stores have a “discount day” when their prices are lower.
I went when their prices were 50% off and got Skye several sweatshirts, t-shirts and a jacket for under $5.00. You can use the same measurements for buying costumes or holiday clothing for your dog. Remember that anything you purchase should fit comfortably on your dog. It can be snug but not binding or your dog may have trouble maneuvering and not want to wear it. Make sure that when it is on your dog they have enough room to urinate or defecate or you will be washing frequently.
You can use child sized booties for your dog’s feet if it isn’t wet outside, just purchase two matching sets. I haven’t had too much luck finding good boots, as a child’s boot weighs so much more than a dog’s boot. Skye even has her own brand name jacket that I found at a thrift store for $2.00; it is pink and purple, and has a zip-out polar fleece lining. I put it on her and zip it up the back and unless it is extremely cold here, she goes for a ride.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently