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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does your dog really need clothes?

Max was an American hairless terrier who came to doggy daycare at Manning Dog Training with a different outfit every day.  In the winter, he had an Eddie Bauer-type snowsuit and boots.  In the summer he wore t-shirts to protect him from sun overexposure.  Max truly needed a four-season wardrobe.

Lately you can't flip through a pet catalog without seeing several pages of dog clothes, from rainsuits to fleece parkas and everything in between.  To some, this may be sheer nonsense, but to those whose dogs live indoors, it makes all the sense in the world.

Sure, dogs have fur and fat to keep them warm.  But if yours is an "indoor/outdoor" dog who sleeps inside, plays outside in all kinds of weather, and accompanies you wherever you go, then a few wardrobe items may come in very handy.

Rain jackets obviously will keep your clean, groomed house dog from becoming a wet, stinky house dog.  They also remove your excuse for not walking your dog on a rainy day.  Besides, it's fun to go walking in the rain when you're both decked in snazzy gear appropriate for the weather.

Fleece sweaters and hooded sweatshirts are great if your short-haired dog accompanies you on car errands  during the colder months.  The car's interior may be toasty when  the heater's running, but if you have to run into a store for half an hour or so, your dog can quickly chill while sitting there, inactive and waiting for you.

A short-haired dog will truly appreciate a warm sweater for a cool day in the car.  Quilted parkas with wind-breaking outer material are good for short-to-medium-haired or elderly dogs on blustery days.  You'll also discover that your short-haired dog will develop less body odor and stay cleaner if you put a jacket on him for his supervised time outside. Dogs without protection have to exude extra oils and burn more energy to keep warm when temperatures are chilly; that's how they develop that greasy feel and doggy smell you notice when they come inside.

T-shirts and sweatshirts also come in handy if you're trying to keep your dog from pestering a sore, rash or wound on his body.  The covering will keep the affected area clean and dry, and make it much more difficult for the dog to scratch or lick.

There's now a line of all-season dogwear developed with NASA technology.  It's made with a "phase-changing" powdery substance sewn inside two layers of high-tech fabric.  The substance adjusts to hot or cold and helps stabilize the dog's body temperature whether it's 95 degrees or sub-zero.  It's the same stuff astronauts use.  It warms when it's cold outside, and it cools when it's hot outside.  When it was developed, its proponents predicted it would revolutionize human clothing.  So far it's only seen limited use in the general population, partly because of its cost.  A dog coat made of this remarkable stuff costs about $150...pretty steep, but potentially invaluable to performance dogs who compete in agility and other outdoor events in extreme temperatures.

And finally, we have doggy PJs.  Silly?  Maybe.  Would the dog rather sleep in the buff?  I'm sure.  But for those of you whose dogs sleep in bed with you, a set of doggy PJs could mean less vacuuming of sheets.  (Yes, some of really do that, don't we!)

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