Updated: Mar 22, 2020
To be honest, I have a deeper, and rather odd, relationship with certain pet-related topics. After all, in the dog-centric lifestyle that I lead by operating a 24/7 daycare camp and boarding hotel out of my home, I practically live and breathe pets every day. What is the most interesting part about it all is that I get to know all of my tail-wagging friends on a deeper, more personal, level. Although I am not a pet parent or a dog mom myself, I feel as though I have adopted each of them on a part-time basis (since I only get so much time to hopefully form a long-lasting bond with any dog for whom I care).
There’s something to be said when the pet(s) you care for belong not to you, however another human being who considers their pet(s) mean the actual world to them. Not only must their dog(s) trust you, but also must the pet parent(s) themselves. It is imperative that they put their full faith and trust into you, since they are believing in your abilities as the caretaker of their fur-child. It is all about bestowing your attention, compassion, appreciation, and your expertise on both the pet’s mental and physical health. Also, let’s not forget happiness. As for me, my passion for animals has become an obsession as I continue to master an understanding of all the diverse traits, features, tendencies, and needs of the multiple breeds, histories, and personalities I work with every day.
To be frank: just because dogs have warm and luscious fur coats, does not mean they are good to go during the coldest winter storms. Just like us humans, they need to be accommodated too! That’s why I was reluctant to write another redundant (soon to be lost in cyberspace next to its counterparts) blog about how to assemble a winter wardrobe for your dog. Instead, I have provided portraits of my beautiful and handsome models of the Mama SaMammals’ household as they rock (lmao idk I just like it) our own winter wear as visuals to explain and describe more specific, unique points and tips for fetching the right doggy jacket, sweater, and vest for that winter weather.
Even the fluffiest of the fluff still needs their essential outerwear
I’ve noticed a trend in different “how-to” blogs that guide pet parents to choose appropriate doggy coats and whatnot. What’s interesting is that they all kick off with questions about whether your dog even needs a coat, as some breeds are not naturally able to bear the cold, while some enjoy harsh climates due to their thick fur coats that keep them well-insulated. However, fluffy fur does not grant such dogs full immunity from winter’s piercingly icy, below zero-degree temperatures, just an FYI for you.
Please take a moment and consider your oversized lap warmer or bed-hogging cuddle buddy carefully before sending them basically naked out into piercing cold climates. Sure, they may initially enjoy it as they are dogs and honestly don’t know better. But, eventually, wouldn’t YOU need a little more than a light jacket?
For example, the following canine mammals in portrait #1 and #2 below are our Siberian Husky siblings, Nikko (left) and Bella (right), who are flawlessly modeling SaMammals' light windbreaker attire from WeatherBeeta.
This fluffy, giant, and cold-accustomed breed of a Siberian Husky may necessitate clothing no heavier than a simple windbreaker due to their already-thick fur coats. In this case, we may then deem light windbreakers as a Siberian Husky’s version of a perfectly appropriate warm winter coat. I mean, look at those happy, doggone-lucky faces!
All dogs get dirty, and all dogs merit clothing to maintain a healthy hygiene. Therefore, you’re best off purchasing clothes that can be washed easily!
Special winter clothing is sometimes necessary, especially if a dog’s time outdoors is spent playing, exploring, rolling, and enjoying the filthy melted snow that winter leaves behind. This slushy muck molds fluffy coats into snowy mud piles of filth, which only gives pet parents another weather-related worry.
Our fun and active pups Bailey (Labradoodle; top, left), Sophie (Goldendoodle; top, right), and Archie (Lab Mix; left) exemplify high-energy sporting and working dogs who can undergo mildly to extremely cold temperatures. Given their intense playing styles, it generally takes a few minutes outside before their blood is pumping enough to warm their bodies. That said, intense dog-play styles inevitably lead to matted fur, crusted mud stains, lodged pieces of dirt, and much more that the list can go on for days.
Similar to Nikko and Bella, they may need much but a light jacket to protect them from a play-induced mud bath. But they may still need a light jacket. I mean, look at those stained paw marks painted all over our freshly washed SaMammals winter wear. It’s impossible to ignore the puppy-dog eye-filled faces. Can you say guilty?
The coat is designed to suit, cover, and protect your pup’s individual needs.
Mammal winter wardrobes come in a manifold of shapes, colors, sizes, and fabricated coats, jackets, vests, and sweaters. For this reason, it's imperative that parents take into account how the design not just fits but also caters to their pet’s unique physical traits, qualities, and behaviors.
Rocking PetRageous Juneau's grey heavyweight winter wear, Winston offers a shining example for ways in which a coat's design plays an immense role. Mama Maureen must consider his, albeit PAWFULLY studly, short stature and stout build. With his overall physique in mind, she must see how a coat can easily hinder his incredibly active lifestyle (a.k.a. endless herding and/or chasing of his canine companions in a sea of melted snow). In other words, Winston's belly touches the ground as he fiercely trots after his playtime peers; in doing so, the sweeping friction between the ground and his exposed belly runs his entire underside ragged with rampant, grimy gunk. Therefore, the fundamental design from which Winston benefits most is one with full chest coverage, the coat's underlying fabric serves as a much-needed belly shield. In addition, this coat is also designed with an opening near the neck/collar area. Seeing as Winston is big-chested, this leaves the spacious room necessary for him to breathe without feeling restricted.
The pawesomeness doesn't stop there. The "adjustable fuzzy fastener back closure makes this coat easy to put on and take off," something from which all dogs benefit.
Take note: less is better in terms of straps, velcro, and the amount of leg and arm holes needed to secure your pup. This is especially for more senior dogs with arthritis. Take winter wear model #7, Oliver the Italian Greyhound senior, for illustration.
Oliver rocks a soft pullover, making it extra easy to take on and off. This means that not only does the fleece keep even a cold-prone pup like the Italian Greyhound, but it makes for a super smooth process of clothing him, as we need to not bend his arthritic hips and older bones in ways that hurt in order for the coat to fit comfortably. To keep it simple, you only need to wrap it around his head through its one accessible loophole, and the rest of the fabric will fall into place.
MEASURE YOUR DOG BEFORE BUYING AND SEE HOW IT FITS!
I promise you know SO much less about their size, girth, etc., than you think when it comes to eyeballing which coat will fit them best.
No dog displays this quite like model #3: Ollie, the Terrier Mutt. Originally, I dressed him in one of the 20” navy blue jackets that the Siberian Huskies (who both wear a 28”), as well as Sophie and Bailey (20”) and Archie (24") all of the above models.
Although his height makes Ollie appear similar in size, his fur does also give out a fluffy puffiness. With that in mind, in my attempt to attach the jacket velcro the first time, I realized that the 20” was too large. Why? Because he was nearly swimming in it while running outside!
I am therefore using portraits of Ollie in the *poorly fit* 20” jacket, as well as the *perfectly fit* small Eddie Bauer knitted sweater. That way, you'll receive a side-by-side display for how much better the sweater I’d normally give my TOY doggies fit in comparison to the jacket in the first photo.
The two upper photos model how and where the jacket is too large in both length and space for Ollie’s comfort. The first photo (top, left) displays an excess of space as the jacket is clearly too loose around his front legs/armpit area. In fact, for as seldom that Ollie wears the 20” at least once I must place his front legs back into their rightful jacket sockets. In other words, with an overabundance of space in this specific body region, those tiny legs of his may slip right out of the jacket with ease, or accidentally get caught in the jacket. As for the second photo (top, right), we notice an excess of length as the jacket clearly provides too much coverage over his rear area/hind legs (good thing Ollie has no tail and only butt-wiggles or he wouldn’t be able to wag it freely)!
Now take a look at Ollie as he models the sweater in the photo’s underneath. The bottom left photo displays how tightly-fitted the sweater is for his arms, unlike the first jacket. Having it be too tight around the arms is just as much a thing as too loose. However, not only is that far from the case for Ollie as his sweater leaves well enough freedom for arm movement and easy flexibility. Also, the sweater’s knitted fabric is fuzzy, soft, and light, which lives little room for potential damage to fur, or perhaps skin irritation from friction. As for the bottom right photo, the sweater displays the proper length for his little buttux and hind legs so that Ollie moves freely in his winter wear. Yes, too short is also just as much a thing as too long. However, this is far from the case for Ollie. If you look closely, you’ll notice I captured him in a stance where the sweater is a bit bunched up. We can therefore conclude that, should Ollie need more rear end coverage, it’d take nothing but some readjusting. I mean, just look at how tall, proud, and obviously happy Ollie feels given how big his grin in the bottom left photo, and that confident sassy stare in the bottom left photo,
There’s nothing wrong with dressing up your pup in snazzy winter fashion
That is so long as owners are cognizant that the material intended for its physical attractivity alone frequently fails to both keep cold pups as fully insulated as we hope, as well as hold up over time, forcing owners to constantly repurchase new and often pricey sweaters.
The following winter wear models all embody their own take at this point. As for winter wear model #6, we have Beloved (GSD, Husky, Pug Mix puppy, left) rocking the chic, pastel green, with the matching pretty pastel blue stripe, fleece vest with a fancy, wooly cotton collar. Never doubt this vest’s fleece material with double the wool layer underneath is ideal for keeping your dog toasty warm! Nevertheless, given that the overall style of the material is still more for show than warmth, the coat remains less than ideal due to the wooly thickness of its collar. According to the pet-educated writers of PetsLady, it’s best to “avoid wool if your dog is likely to get wet.” If your dog is anything like Beloved, chances are “wet” does not come close to the level of filth their coat attracts come time hit the outdoors.
Likewise, as for model #7, we have Wiley (Mutt puppy, right), rocking the preppy look as she wears the thick, baby blue, plaid fleece vest, which is also equipped with more than one underlying warm layer for extra toastiness! Again, the coat’s outside material is less than ideal for keeping your pup protected from inevitable mud, muck, slush, snow, rain, or any dirty stains to which winter conditions often lead to. With that in mind, while fleece is typically optimal for pet warmth, it’s critical to look “for a top layer designed to withstand water like a waterproof outer shell.”
Next we have model #8, the most stylish of all Goldendoodles, Steve (8 y/o), as he rocks not just one, but FOUR different coats as he clearly cares more about making fashion statements than making himself warm! Not to mention, his breed(s) do not typically require the warmest winter attire. We can assume that the fashionable sweaters seen in the photos shows that he does and can wear for a number of reasons. I know this because I’ve watched him show up to my home with the sweater on the left, and every day, it appeared more torn, ripped, etc. (i.e. STEVE WEARS PRECISELY THE KIND OF SWEATER PRONE TO DAMAGE AND THUS REPLACING… poor Carole [Mama of Steve]). He’d continue wearing it as if it didn’t have three holes and a long rip down the middle, and all because so long as it was wearable, he was less vulnerable. Carole and I have also witnessed Steve whimper when taken off even INSIDE, leading us to believe warmth has little to do with his sweater obsession.
Another reason may be that, while he’s still a playful pup, clearly capable of destroying his clothes, Steve is nonetheless more my furry sidekick than he is anything. To put it in simple terms, he plays nowhere near the way some daycare rough housers. Therefore, the ripped threading is most often due to getting caught on, say, door handles when barging through the outside door (yes, he does this plenty). That, or because Steve’s typically least at risk for wearing less durable coat material given his older age limits the intensity of his play style.
OR, because Steve just appreciates looking like the flyest pup to adventure Mama SaMammals’ daycare camp. Whatever the reason, Steve remains emblematic of why it is entirely acceptable to dress up your pup in snazzy winter fashion. I mean, just look at his self-dignified, poised self as he proudly wears his favorite sweaters and vests! Can you say handsome?
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Whether you're a professional dog sitter, pet parent, or both, when manufacturing the perfect winter wardrobe for mammals, always take into account your area's climate, your dog' breed, fur, weight, and any additional important facts. Humans don't fathom that almost all dogs need a winter coat to the same extent as we do. Time and time again I hear that their dog mustn't wear one because they despise being clothed in any such coat because it causes them discomfort. This is false. Just because the dog does not initially care for the coat that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. Think of it as we may not want to drink water all of the time, but our bodies need it anyway. Believe me when I say your fur baby will thank you for not making them experience crucial cold pain while fighting the winter weather.
So, mammal mates, we are sending you off with the warmest of wags from the pack of SaMammals, LLC. Just remember, SPRING IS COMING!