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Tip of the Month

3/12/2012 Is Your Pet a Fashionista?

Dog collars were probably one of the first “fashion statements” for our four legged friends. We have all seen large dogs with intimidating spiked dog collars and chain leashes. Then there are collars with whimsical pink hearts and glittering rhinestones. These images reflect the extreme end of the animal accoutrement fashion spectrum.

However, what about doggie clothes? Is there really a good reason for these items to be on dogs? Dogs have gone “naked” since the beginning of time. Humans tend to think a dog’s hair is great protection from extreme weather conditions. So why bother with clothes? Believe it or not, there are times when your pet might be very appreciative of a doggie jacket. For example, if your pet is normally an “indoor” pet, his fur may not be thick enough at a cold outdoor campsite. Another example would be in the case of older arthritic dogs. They may need padded socks to gain traction on modern laminate flooring. This will ease stress on shaky legs and hips. Bows and ribbons on the head of your pooch not only create a cute puppy look on many dogs but they also keep the hair out of their eyes. We can think of numerous other examples of a practical need for some clothing item to make our pets comfortable.

Whatever the reason you have for dressing your pet up, you need to be concerned with two major issues: safety and comfort. Here are a few things to consider before you spend your money on the next canine outfit you see in the store.

Any rubber bands or ribbons that you have holding your pet’s hair up in a cute bow should be taken out every day and brushed. They may cause the hair on the head to get snarled and hurt the dog. This is especially true if the bow or ribbon gets wet. It is important for you to take it out and dry the hair. If you let a matted spot get too big, a dog groomer might not be able to brush it out. They may have to resort to scissors to remove a mat caused by this scenario.

Doggie shirts and sweaters will keep a dog warm, but make sure that the article of clothing is fitted properly. Even if the clothing item seems to fit, you need to see if it causes hair to rub and become uncomfortable. (By the way, this can even happen with a collar or harness on your dog.) If your dog is a longhaired breed make sure to take the item off everyday and brush the hair underneath. Main areas where hair will get matted are around the neck and chest, in the armpits of the dog, or on the stomach. A good idea is to keep your dog’s hair slightly shorter or be prepared to brush frequently.

Unfortunately, if you do not keep up with brushing, hair can become heavily matted and possibly cause friction. This can be very painful for your pooch. If your dog does get seriously matted spots, you will need to make a trip to your local dog groomer. The groomer will most likely try bathing and brushing first, but if the problem is serious, they may need to use clippers. Remember, if you ignore wet mats, the problem only gets worse and will probably be very uncomfortable for your dog.

Many pets, once they get use to wearing clothes, enjoy the attention. You can look to see if there are animal “fashion” shows in your neighborhood. There you can let Fifi and Fido can strut their stuff!

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