From an article of mine first published in Modern Dog Magazine.
There are several reasons why many dogs should sometimes wear coats. Consider our own reasons for wearing them. To remain warm and comfortable, we layer ourselves with sweaters, overcoats and rain jackets when temperatures start to plummet. If we are ill we may add more clothing to help our bodies keep warm. Also, as we age our bodies may no longer warm up as quickly as they once did.
All of these things are equally true for our canine companions. When winter sets in we hesitate to go outside without added protection. Well, so do many dogs! Some breeds come from hot climates and were never intended to hang out in the cold. Short-haired breeds such as the Chihuahua or Greyhound are uncomfortable in freezing temperatures. Dogs with little or no undercoat like the Maltese and Bichon Frise have no protection against harsh wind and rain. Even heavier-coated breeds such as the Pomeranian and Lhasa Apso will appreciate the added warmth of a cozy fleece-lined jacket when blizzards blow.
If walking in the rain is your passion, make sure your dog's jacket is waterproof. Don't use one with a fabric that will become soaked through, wicking moisture toward the skin. If you live with a large breed such as a Labrador Retriever or German Shepherd Dog, you may want to check out one of the sporty-looking lines of fleece-lined and water repellent dog coats that are available. You also won't need to spend extra time drying Champ's fur off when you get home in order to keep your house clean.
Chronic illnesses such as cancer and painful conditions like arthritis mean you need to keep your dog as comfortable as possible. At these times especially, a sweater or jacket will help stop the cold from sapping energy that the body needs for healing.
Old age creeps up on us all and our precious dogs go through much the same processes in aging as we do. Their bodies have a hard time generating enough heat to keep their organs warm. Circulation may slow down. It is especially important to help our dogs stay warm and dry during those golden years. Too often we neglect our pets in this way because we think only humans should wear clothing.
The fit of a garment is important. If it is too loose it won't be effective, and if it is too tight it will be uncomfortable. It should be fitted to reach from the base of the kneck to the base of the tail, and it should be nice and snug around the chest. Make sure the boys have room to relieve themselves.
Don't forget your dogs's feet! Fitted gumboots for dogs protect the sensitive pads against salt, asphalt and sharp rocks. Dog's pads do not develop calluses the same way people's feet do. When it snows, boots will protect against frostbite and will keep snowballs from forming between the toes.
You can find great lines of all-weather boots for any size of dog. Take them off at the door when your pet has been outside on rainy days, and... no more muddy paw prints on your floor! Muttluks is a Canadian-made line of boots that was used by search and rescue dogs at Ground Zero after 9/11. The company also makes Hottdoggers, fleece pull-on house shoes. Their no-skid soles also help provide traction on slippery surfaces such as hardwood floors and boat decks.
Not every dog needs to wear a coat. Dogs do have fur, and many have enough to keep them warm during winter outings. My rule of thumb is, if it is cold enough for me to want to wear an extra layer, then my dog should be given the same level of concern for comfort and protection.
Then of course there is the fashion appeal of it all. Most dogs have little concern for fashion, but many owners do care about appearances. There is so much creative and well-designed dog apparel available, keeping Snowy warm can be fun as well as practical.
If your canine partner shivers just looking out the window this winter season, don't let winter blues put a crimp in your style. Cuddle your canine into a cozy sweater, take your pet for a jaunt in a practical parka, or step out with your buddy is a stylish bolero - and know that it benefits both of you!
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Author: Danielle Lea MacDonald, Certified Master Groomer IPG, ISCC. Pivotal member of the Society of Holistic Pet Stylists. Lifetime Member In Good Standing International Society of Canine Cosmetologists.
Danielle's Studio is a full-service, pet grooming spa designed exclusively for grooming small dogs.
I am committed to meeting the highest standards of the Pet Styling Industry. Grooming is my passion!
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