Friday, December 24, 2010

Tips on Choosing Winter Accessories for Your Dog

By Tamara L. Waters

You might be thinking it's a simple thing to choose which winter accessories your dog needs to be warm and cozy in cold weather, but there are a few things to consider.

Winter Coats and Boots

There are winter accessories that would be good choices for your dog based upon his time spent outside. When going out for a walk, the snow and salt on sidewalks, roadways and yards can hurt your pooch's paws (or at least make them very uncomfortable) so buying him some boots would be a good choice. You can choose disposable boots or reusable ones.

It is usually recommended that short-haired dogs wear some type of coat or covering on super cold winter days. Long-haired dogs have extra hair to help keep them warm, but the slick coated, short-haired dogs can benefit from a little help.

There are a number of style choices for doggy coats. You can choose snowsuits that cover part of the legs, or actual “coats” that wrap around the body and keep the underside of the dog warm. There are also coats that simply go over the dog's back to keep his back and sides warm. If the winter weather in your area is not extreme, a simple coat that just covers your dog’s back may be sufficient. On the other hand, if your area gets bombarded with nasty winter weather, choose a snowsuit or dog coat that is heavier and covers the underbelly. Some retailers offer dog coats that have a built-in harness, which makes it easier for daily walks or a winter trip to the vet or groomer.

Pay attention to how the coat fastens. You will want to choose a coat with fasteners that are easy for you to handle and manipulate. For example, plastic snap fasteners would not be the best choice if you have arthritis or strength issues. Instead, look for accessories that use a hook and loop closure. For more tips on choosing dog coats, read Linda Cole’s article, The Best Winter Clothes for Dogs.

Beds and Blankets

My parents' Jack Russell Terrier has a favorite blanket and pillow for the cold days and nights of winter. He started out by “stealing” a favorite winter blanket from my mother. In order to keep her own blanket for herself, she found him a pillow and blanket of his own. Some retailers offer pillows that include heating coils (similar to an electric blanket) to provide warmth in the winter. This is a good option, but if your dog is like my parents' dog, he will never want to leave the warm pillow!

Insulated Dog House

If your dog spends any time outdoors during the winter, you might want to invest in an insulated dog house. Check at local farm stores for the best deals and offerings. Farm customers usually have outside pets, and I have found that my local farm store has the best selection of tough and rugged accessories for dogs that spend time outside. An insulated dog house will help keep your dog warm during the winter and provide shelter on those snowy nights. Read Caring for Outside Pets in Cold Weather for some tips on doghouses and other ways to help pets stay warm in the winter.

Browse Accessories

Your best bet for choosing winter accessories for your dog is to make a trip to a local pet store to actually look at and handle items. While I am a big fan of online shopping, sometimes you need to actually see and touch an item before buying it. Being a responsible pet owner means choosing wisely for your dog – you can bet he will enjoy this cold season better when he is warm and cozy with his new winter accessories!

Read more by Tamara L. Waters

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