If you’re like me, you can never have enough coats. I’m no clothes horse, but one needs a variety to cover most occasions.
Evidently, this seems true for dogs. Diva and Dash could have so many coats as to require their own closet.
If looking to clothe your canine fashionista, coats of lightweight fabrics and sweaters run the gamut of cute. You can dress your pet to accessorize your look, to match a collar, or to reflect the season.
Styling coats and sweaters meet a variety of tastes and budgets. How about a tartan plaid vest, a faux leopard trim coat, or a “Born to Ride” leather jacket (www.baxterboo.com)? Or, consider the Alpaca Poncho (www.inthecompanyofdogs.com): hand knitted and “detailed by artisans in Peruvian mountain villages using ancestral techniques of spinning and dyeing.”
Since styling coats are designed to declare one’s fashion sense, they are meant primarily for indoors or moderate weather. These coats and sweaters pull on and stay on, often for days, until needing a wash or a new look.
Wet and Cold Weather Coats
When talking about walking, especially in inclement weather, coats become more a necessity than a fashion statement, especially for our short-haired canine companions.
For cool weather, fleece is all that is needed. Coats with Velcro wraps or pullovers with elasticized waists to keep in warmth are cozy.
For wet or windy weather, seek out waterproof lightweight nylon that is breathable. Fleece linings add extra warmth.
Quilted and “blanket” coats are also a possibility, creating air pockets to trap your dog’s body heat. I even found a blanket coat at BaxterBoo with removable leg pieces to convert it into a snowsuit.
For easy fitting, Velcro closures around the neck and waist are the quickest for an adjustable, comfy fit.
If well designed, a coat should accommodate a leash, either through an opening or via its own metal ring. Extra features might be a removable liner, reflective piping for extra visibility, handy zip pocket for keys and waste bags, or reversible sides for two looks.
Yep, there’s such a thing as coat for hot weather. Ruffwear (www.ruffwear.com) offers one called the Swamp Cooler. You soak the coat in cold water, and – via evaporative cooling – the coat exchanges body heat with the water’s chill. For our scorching Utah summers, this certainly seems a good idea.
Some coats are designed to quell anxiety. The Rein Coat (www.thereincoat.com) and Thundershirt and Thundercoat (www.thundershirt.com) are snug fitting coats designed to apply constant, gentle pressure to calm dogs during storms, travel, and fireworks, or for separation anxiety.
The Rein Coat also incorporates a harness to replicate the nurturing pick-up of a puppy by its mother. According to manufacturers, The Rein Coat “is designed to lightly touch your pet at the nape of the neck—just like a mommy dog or cat—triggering the production of oxytocin to be released by the brain, which then reduces the fear and anxiety in your pet.” (The coats are indeed available for cats too.)
For dogs with unique body shapes, such as Dachshunds and Whippets, you can find manufacturers that specialize in breed-specific coats. For example, Foggy Mountain Dog Coats (www.dogcoat.com) provides a variety of functional and styling coats for deep-barreled, thin-waisted dogs and their short-legged, long-bodied comrades.
Sizes vary by manufacturer, so get out the measuring tape. For back length (example: 23” – 25”), measure from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. For girth, measure your dog’s chest behind the front legs at the widest part. If the measurements are at the upper end of the sizing range, it is safest to go up to the next size. Hopefully, the measurement guide includes a weight range too for extra guidance.
If possible, take your dog to pet stores and outdoor recreation outfitters and try on coats before investing. If ordering online, read the ratings and comments. Often, other buyers’ observations will help you decide if this coat will meet your requirements, or how to determine your dog’s size. With measurements in hand and some assurance of quality from previous buyers’ feedback, you can buy with confidence (but double-check their return policy!).
And don’t forget to set aside closet space to accommodate your dog’s wardrobe.
First Published in Pets in the City Magazine, February 2014