How is Your Dog Celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet Day?

The powers that be have declared today National Dress Up Your Pet Day. But please don't dismiss this as a silly event. Putting little dogs...


The powers that be have declared today National Dress Up Your Pet Day. But please don’t dismiss this as a silly event. Putting little dogs in cute getups, with or without Japanese cartoon characters, isn’t the the only way to observe this day.

Clothing for dogs can sport equal amounts of substance and style. It can be as cool as it is cute. There’s a reason National Dress Up Your Pet Day is taking place in the middle of January, which is freezing cold in many parts of the country: Dressing up dogscan be verygood for their health and well-being, provided it’s done sensibly.

Obviously, putting a dog in a K9 costume is all about the owner’s pleasure. But a garment that’s specificallydesigned fora dog’swarmth and comfort is not a costume. It’s actually an essential part of living with dogs. It doesn’t hurt if the garment is good-looking, but looks come second to good, functionaldesign.

Smart dog owners keep a small wardrobe on hand for those days that call for a specific type of gear. The K9 wardrobe basics are: a sweater, awinter coat, and a raincoat. (Booties are optional, depending on whether or not your dog will wear them.)

Was your dog born with a short coat? Thenchances are s/he feels the brrrn when you step outside in freezing temps. Please put a sweater or coat or some sort of thermal layer on him/her – it’s the kind thing to do. There are so many K9 sweater and coat styles to choose from, many quite easy to put on and take off, that there’s really no excuse not todress upyour dog.

If you don’t plan to leave the house in the altogether yourself, please don’t expect your short-coated dog to be a streaking polar-bear nudist either! Be a mensch and protect him from the elements. Some folks think it’s “embarrassing” or somehow less than “manly”to dress up a dog, even when the weather’s frightful. I think a person who subjectsa naked dog to the bitter cold is, well, bitter and cold. Mean, too.

If you like to knit, you can design and create your own dog sweater. That custom, handmade touch is always sweet. And if you’re a knitting novice, rest assured that your dog won’t judge your efforts – s/he will just be glad to have something warm to wear out there!

As with fashions for people, K9 styles range from the handmade to the high-tech. We humans couldn’t get through winter without our North Face and Patagonia gear; happily there are many high-tech performance apparel options for dogs.TheK-9 Overcoatby Ruffwear is a fine example – it has a water-resistant, recycled-polyester shell andeven sports reflective stripes for safety.

As we saw here, some thermal layers, such asa form-fitting fleece bodysuit by K9 Top Coat,have a therapeutic benefit in addition to looking fancy. With a garment like this, designed to protect a sensitive creature’s skin, dressing up your dog can mean the difference between a happy, healthy hound and an itchy, scratchy one.

Dachshundsand Pugs can be difficult to fit in the clothing department because of the way they’re built.Happily, there’s a company that caters to these breedsspecifically: Houndz in the ‘Hood, which also offers styles for hard-to-fit large dogs such as Greyhounds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

If you have a long-coated dog, or one with a fuzzy double coat, obviously a winter coat isn’t needed, and could actually prove quite annoying to the wearer. A raincoat, however,is very much appreciated by hairy hounds, because once all that K9 wool gets soaked, it can take a long time to dry – and trust me, in cold weather, it’s not pleasant to sit around feeling smothered by your ownwet hair, or to step back outside in the freezing cold with damp fur.

My favorite rain gear for dogs – long- and short-coated – is the lightweight, sporty-lookingCloudburst jacketby WestPaw Design (pictured above). It’s equal parts fashion and function, and it looks as good as it performs. Plus, it’s made of recycled material. Mypit bullLazarus seriously hates rain, but this jacket makes him feel safe enough to dash outside and stay out therejust long enough to do his business. And he doesn’t even know how killer cute he looks in it.

Do you have any insider tips for dressing up your fashion hound? Please share them in the comments.

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