Thursday, May 28, 2009

Does Your Dog Need a Raincoat?

By Ruthie Bently

We are now well into the spring season, and Skye hates to go outside when it is raining. She will go out in the middle of a blizzard, but won’t put a whisker outside when it’s raining. Is your dog the same way? Did you know you can purchase a raincoat for your dog along with booties if they are fussy about getting their feet wet?

Most pet shops carry raincoats and boots year round, and they are available for most sized dogs. If your dog needs a raincoat, it’s a good idea to take them into the store to try on their raincoats to see which one will fit the best. Some of the deeper chested breeds may be a bit hard to fit, but it can be done. Most raincoats are made of plastic and have a hole for your dog’s head along with a chest protector and a belt for around their middle to hold it in place around their body.

The raincoat should fit well but not too snugly, the dog should have room to move comfortably. If you can’t bring the dog into the store, ask the store personnel if you can bring it back if it doesn’t fit. Usually they will say to be sure to keep your receipt and try not to remove the tags from the coat. If this is the case and your dog is at home, you can still get a good idea of what size they will need.

The best way to fit a coat on your dog is to have the dog stand up while you are trying it on them; this will give you a truer picture of how the coat fits. Get your dog to stand and use a tape measure to measure down their back from the neck where their collar lies, and measure down to where their tail comes out of their rump. Most coats run in even sizes from 8 inch to about 36 inch. If your dog measures say 19 inches, buy an 18 inch coat. You would rather buy a bit smaller than too large, this will keep your dog from soiling the coat if he is a male and lifts his leg, or hanging too far off the back when they need to defecate. The chest piece should not be too binding and the belt should fit snugly around the dog’s middle.

Rain boots are just as easy to fit. Boots come in many kinds of materials, but the best for rain is either rubber or cordura nylon. I used to sell two good rain boots; one was cordura nylon with a Velcro® closure and the other was made of cordura nylon with an elastic closure. When fitting boots you also want to have your dog standing up. If you cannot take your dog with you, get the dog to stand up and take tracings of each foot. Make sure to include their toenails, as they will be on the inside of the boot and while these boots are tough, you don’t want them too tight, as your dog’s toenails may be tougher. Get the closest size to your tracing, and if you need to, go up a size to get the correct fit.

When fitting your dog for a coat, they may be uncomfortable for a bit because they are not used to having something on their back. Fitting your dog for boots may take a bit longer as you are buying them in sets of four, and you will probably be tempted to laugh the first time you see your dog with boots on their feet, but try not to. They may not understand that you are laughing at their perceived misery, but don’t let on because believe it or not your dog can get embarrassed. What I do when fitting a dog for a coat or boots, is have a Snap-Bit dog treat ready. They feel better if they know there is a cookie waiting at the end of their “ordeal.”

If your yard is “mud central” like ours has been, having boots for your dog isn’t such a crazy idea. I have a white tile kitchen floor and while I love the color, I don’t love the mud that Skye can bring in on her feet. Skye knows that she has to stop in the mudroom on the rug to have her leash and whatever else she has on removed. But if she comes in barefoot, even with the rug in the mudroom, my floors are still muddy. So on rainy days, Skye has to wait while I put her boots on before she goes out. She knows she gets a Snap-Bit at the end of it all, and she does love her cookie.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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