Shopping for fashionable winter clothes for your canine family member is one of the highlights of the season. Sweaters should keep your pooch warm, but they also need to fit her comfortably. Many pet stores allow you to take Fifi inside, so you can put it on her before purchasing.
How to Size
You'll want to get a few simple measurements before heading to the pet shop. Get a measuring tape and lay it across Fifi's back. Measure from the base of her tail to the base of her neck to get a solid body-length measurement. Wrap the measuring tape around the broadest part of her chest to determine her girth. Lastly, measure around the base of her neck. While taking girth and neck measurements, the measuring tape should be loose, not tight.
Brands and styles will vary slightly, but the packaging should have a chart showing you which measurements apply to which size sweater. For example, an extra small sweater might fit a pint-sized pooch with a length of about 8 inches, a girth of up to 12 inches and a neck measurement of 8 inches. Place the sweater over Fifi's head. It should fit comfortably around her neck and not feel constricting. Next, slip her paws into the front two holes. Again, ensure that the leg holes are not too confining. Finally, if the sweater has loops in the back, slip her back legs into the rear loops, which simply hold the sweater in place, but not all styles have them. Allow your furry friend to walk around and make sure she is comfortable.
Some dogs have odd body shapes that make sweater fitting more difficult. Dachshunds, for example, have a very long torso, while bulldogs have a wider neck, making it harder to find a comfortable sweater. In these cases, you may have to get one size bigger or make a few alterations. A sweater that is a little too snug around the neck will fit better with a slight snip cut into the front, just like a V-neck shirt. On the other hand, if you find a sweater that is a little too short in length, you might be able to remove the rear loops so that it is not so constricting.
Sweaters can keep your precious pal warm during colder months, but you should not leave her unattended in her new outfit. Sweaters can be hazardous for your furry family member. Her legs can get caught up in the material, it might make her itch or she may unintentionally swallow sweater fragments. If she winds up swallowing part of her clothing, she may not be able to pass it, leading to an intestinal blockage. In severe cases, she'll have to undergo a painful and very costly surgical procedure. Take off her cozy sweater before putting her in her crate, prior to bedtime or before you head out to work for the day.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.