Dog Coats and Pet Sweaters: Finding the Perfect Fit

iStock_000030879648_LargeFashion may dictate which coats, scarves, and other accessories we buy for ourselves this holiday season, but selecting a functional or fashionable winter or rain coat (or footwear) for your canine shouldn’t mean compromising fit and quality.

There are numerous winter clothing options available for dogs (and even cats). It can be overwhelming, though, to understand what you really need and how to select the right size.

To help you take the mystery out of winter clothing for pets, we’ve put together some helpful tips to consider while shopping for the perfect pet coat, boots, and other seasonal clothing.

Does Your Pet Need a Coat?

First of all, take time to get to know your dog’s (or other pet’s) breed characteristics and physiology. Some breeds handle cold weather well, such as Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and Newfoundlands, while others with smaller frames and smooth, short coats may start shivering when the temps drop to milder ranges below 60 degrees. (Keep in mind, however, that all pets are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite.)

Some questions to ask concerning your pet’s winter needs include:

  • How thin is my pet? Smaller frames and thin pets don’t have the needed fat storage to help them deal with cold weather.
  • What type of coat does my pet have? While coat thickness does not protect your pet from extreme cold or all forms of inclement weather, your shaggy dog may not appreciate a “too hot” jacket during mild winter conditions.
  • Has my pet been ill? Any pet recovering from surgery or illness is more susceptible to cold.
  • How old is my pet? Your senior friend will need additional layers this season, including bedding and a warm jacket.
  • Do I understand my pet’s breed? The genetic makeup of your pet also weighs in to determining his or her weather resiliency.
  • Since these questions require research and understanding of your pet’s overall health, we encourage you to discuss your pet’s winter readiness during his or her wellness exam.

    Quality vs. Cute

    Before selecting a brand of coat or shoes for your pet, we recommend checking out ratings and customer feedback. Avoid highly-flammable, low-rated, cheaply made garments, no matter how cute they might be. Remember: the sole reason for purchasing a coat and other winter clothing is to prevent frostbite, hypothermia, and cold weather discomfort for your pet.

    Besides, your pet is adorable no matter what he or she is donning this season.

    Pet Clothing Shopping Tips

  • Keep it simple when it comes to coats and shoes. Small decorative add-ons, like fancy buttons or tassels, are likely to get chewed off of the garment or torn off during play.
  • Is the quality of fabric something you’d wear yourself? Opt for comfortable, warm, natural fabrics or fleece.
  • Avoid “one size fits all” or S,M, L garments and choose sizes based on specific measurements (take these before you go shopping).
  • To get the correct size for your pet, measure back length (base of the neck to the base of the tail), neck circumference, and across the broadest part of the chest.
  • When selecting shoes or boots, measure your pet’s paws while he or she is standing, since standing weight will change the length and width of paw size.
  • Bring your pet in to the store, whenever possible, to get a proper professional fitting or – at the very least – give you the chance to do a pre-purchase test run and fitting.
  • Before making any assumptions about your pet’s ability to weather the elements this winter, please call us for help in getting your pet “winterized” (and stylin’, too!).