Even if you aren’t interested in decking out your dog in the latest fashion, your pet may still need an assortment of gear – from rainwear to winter jackets – to protect her from the elements.

Talk To Your Vet

It is good to discuss with your vet the best ways to keep your dog protected from the elements whether from the high heat and rain of summer or the heavy snows and harsh temperatures of winter. Concerns vary depending on where you live, but if you are a city dweller, for example, you may need to discuss how to protect your dog’s paws from hot pavement, slushy sidewalks or even the chemicals that are put down on the streets to melt frozen ice. There is dog clothing to help with many of these problems.

Your doctor can also assess whether there are underlying medical issues behind signs that you might attribute to the change in weather – such as panting or shivering – that may be an indication of something beyond what mother nature has brought.

Know Your Options

There are a number of outerwear choices, with each garment designed for a specific effect or weather condition. You can spend hours in pet stores and online shops looking for just the right thing but here are a few types to consider:

Sweaters and jackets to help preserve body heat. Depending on where you live, these clothes are often recommended for dealing with harsh temperatures. This is especially true for shorthaired dogs, or pups that are recovering from a recent surgery (anesthesia can interrupt a canine’s ability to regulate her temperature).

Boots to protect from the great outdoors. Foot gear is often recommended for use in winter to protect paws from ice and de-icing chemicals. It is also often advised for situations where your dog will be running outdoors for an extended period of time, especially in areas with an abundance of cactus, burs, thorns, or very hot ground.

Rainwear to prevent a drenching. A dog raincoat can keep both your pup and your house from getting soaked. Many raincoats designed for dogs include reflective tape for greater visibility – a nice safety feature.

Make the Right Choice

When shopping for your dog’s new outfit, it’s important to consider a number of safety and fit factors, not just whether the colors with clash with her fur. Here are a few of the most basic considerations.

Focus on fit. Outerwear should fit snuggly, but should not restrict your dog’s movement. If you have a male dog, make sure that your pet can relieve himself without the clothing getting in the way. If you use a harness, assess whether you can fit your harness on the outside of the sweater or jacket or if you can easily attach your leash through the clothing to your harness. Some outerwear comes with a pre-cut opening so you can slide the leash through the fabric to the harness easily.

Check for small, easily swallowed parts. If at all possible, avoid clothing with small pieces that your dog could theoretically chew off and eat. Shop for outerwear that’s easy to put on/take off. Hard to remove items can make the process much more stressful. Tip: Velcro can often trap fur. Double-check for durability. Some canine garments have built-in harnesses or d-rings to accommodate a leash. If you suspect that these items may not hold up, it may be better to simply rely on the collar or harness you typically use. Know that it’s a matter of trial and error. Sometimes the item will seem perfect in the store but when you get home, you find the boots won’t stay on or the dog refuses to budge because the item restricts movement in an unexpected way.

Get Your Pet Acclimatized Gradually

Though some dogs may immediately like their new fashions, many others will eye the new items with suspicion. If your dog protests the new clothes, don’t force the issue. Instead, gradually introduce your dog to her new garment.

1. Begin by simply showing your dog the clothing and offering her a treat.

2. The next day, offer your pup the treat, loosely placing the item on her back and then removing it.

3. On day three, offer a treat and try to secure the clothing onto your dog. Remember, it’s important to make the experience stress free for both you and your dog.

4. Know when it is time to surrender. If the item you purchased isn’t working out you might need to try a different style of clothing or a different fit to make both you and your pet happy.

This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.