Choosing Clothing for Dogs: a Pet Lover's Guide to Choices
We’ve all seen, and been a little jealous of, the adorable instagram feeds of well dressed pets. There is nothing that makes a puppy cuter than putting him in a sweet little christmas sweater. And chihuahuas in rainboots? Don’t even get us started. The good news is pet boutiques and online shops are popping up all over the country and doggie dress up is no longer an activity reserved for the lucky few. However; if you plan to take part in this four-legged fashion trend there a few considerations to keep in mind before you post your first photo.
Why Dress Up Your Pup?
Some of you may be thinking it’s a silly and pointless fashion trend. To that we say, hogwash! There are countless valid reasons why you may want to dress up your pup.
The first and most common reason is comfort. Colder seasons are the perfect excuse to pick up a cute doggie sweater. Its true that dogs have their own fur sweaters but during colder months they may appreciate the added warmth. Also if you’re taking your pup out during a rainy day, it would be silly to assume your pup would rather be wet and soggy than don a fun rain coat.
Another perfectly acceptable reason to dress up your pet is for protection. It's common for pet owners to put a shirt on their pet to prevent itching a set of stitches, put on a pair of shoes to protect their paws from hot pavement or even a heavy winter coat to protect from bitter cold winds.
A third reason some pet owners consider clothing is for helping ease pet anxiety. There are several weighted vests on the market specifically designed to help calm pets with anxious tendencies. The gentle pressure of an article of clothing can sometimes make a huge difference in helping your pooch feel more safe and at ease.
One final reason to consider is that doggie clothes are so fun! And if your pet is comfortable and safe that is absolutely enough of a reason.
Do’s of Buying Pet Clothing.
Now that you have all the reasons you need to start accessorizing your pet’s naturally beautiful appearance, let’s get into the do’s of buying clothing.
First, always consider the purpose of the clothing. Are you buying it to keep them warm, to cover a certain area of their body or just for fun? The reason why you are purchasing a specific item will help you understand what qualities to look for in said item.
Second, make sure the clothing is made of good quality material. Your pet’s skin can be sensitive to certain materials and certain materials interact with fur differently. You’ll want to make sure the material you choose will work well for your pet and is quality.
The fitting of the clothing is one of the most important aspects. You will want the clothing to be snug, as to prevent tripping and tangling, but not tight. It will need to cover all the appropriate areas while still being open where pets need it to be.
It is also a very good idea to watch your pet closely for the first few hours in a new piece to make sure they’re comfortable and the clothing isn’t making them anxious or otherwise irritated.
And finally; be sure to wash their clothes often, at least every 2 weeks, so that they smell as good as they look.
Don’ts of Buying Pet Clothing.
Just as there are aspects to look for in pet clothing there are aspects to avoid. Easily enough most of these are just the inverse of the do’s.
- Don’t buy ill-fitting clothing.
- Don’t buy poor quality material.
- Don’t put them in clothing that will make them too hot.
- Don’t have them wear anything that upsets them.
- Don’t buy anything with zippers or anything that may snag their fur.
There are a few unique don’t to consider. Don’t overly accessorize. No dog will enjoy wearing hats, socks and a bunny ears all the time. Save the accessories for quick photos; if you choose to buy them.
Don’t buy distracting clothing such as clothes with bells or other noise makers on them or clothing that lights up. These articles will likely make it harder for your pet to relax. And no one wants a cranky pup.
In conclusion there are many great reasons to dress up your pet; some practical and some fun. Be sure to know what you are looking for before you shop and always follow your pet’s lead when dressing them up. Some pets will love to wear any sort of adventurous clothing and others will hate any and all clothing. Respect your pet and keep their wellbeing at top of mind at all times. And if you are lucky enough to have a willing participant in your doggies fashion show be sure to set a budget; because buying those adorable outfits can be addicting.
Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom, avid veterinary volunteer, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.