Cheap Winter Sweaters for Dogs that Can't Withstand the Cold
If a warm lake on a 94 degree day is enough to cause fits of shivers for my American Bulldog/Whippet mix, Lily, I can only imagine how a bout of below freezing weather will treat her. Maybe it's her whippet ancestors, or maybe she is just warm-blooded, but a drop in temperature is going to put a major crimp in her forest exploring, play yard wrestling, park walking style.
I priced dog sweaters at varying pet stores - Pet Smart, Petco, Target, Walmart. Prices ranged from $10-$30. While the sweaters were cute and fashionable, I doubt they would have done much in terms of body heat retention. On the budget of a college student, $10-$30 for a single piece of non-functional clothing sounds like a lot. I needed new options.
At Target I wandered away from the pet section and found myself amidst the children's clothes. A child's sweaters made of quality material cost $5. The cheapest dog sweater on the Target racks at the time was $15. Which made me question: what exactly is to keep my dog from wearing children's sweaters?
The beauty of children is that they outgrow their clothing long before the clothing looses its functionality. Meaning that about 1 in 3 garage sales are selling children's clothing - usually in a wide variety of sizes. The same is true for thrift stores.
At the first garage sale I went to I found a very nice baby sweater and purchased it for only $0.75. The sweater's tag was labeled "12 months". It fits Lily (who weighs 25 lbs) perfectly. And it makes her look like Bill Cosby. What more could you ask for?
Lily makes a habit of wrestling in the dirt, so after my initial success I decided to try to pick up a few more sweaters and start a rotation that would last until laundry day. This time I hit the jackpot - the garage sale of a family with multiple children. I dug through baby clothes until I came out with two fleece jackets, a grey sweater, and an olive colored long sleeved t-shirt. They charged me $1 for each sweater and $0.25 for the t-shirt.
I now had 5 articles of clothing for a total of $4. That is about 1/4 of what I would have paid for a single dog sweater.
These sweaters are some of the most worthwhile purchases I have made for Lily. She wears them all of the time - outside and inside. We spend long amounts of time braving the cold, and then curl up to cozy naps.
I dare the winter to stop our fun.
Bellow are some things to consider when picking the right sweater.
Things to Consider When Picking a Dog Sweater
Sizing: Just like children, dogs do not come in three sizes. Manufacturers of children's clothing know this, but dog sweater manufacturers do not. This means that your chances of finding a properly fitting dog sweater are now a lot greater. Lillian weighs 25lbs and wears toddler clothing labeled somewhere between 12 months and 24 months. The 12 month clothing fits her the best. The beauty of $1 sweaters is that it is easy to guess and check on sizing without putting too much money on the line.
The key things to pay attention to when eyeballing for the correct size are the length of the sweater (if it is too long it may get in the way when your dog tries to relieve itself) and the size of the torso.
A sweater with sleeves that are too long can easily be rolled up or cut. Lily's stay cuffed pretty well on their own, but it is also easy to put in a few stitches so that the cuffs do not roll down and get in the way.
In addition, depending on the cut of the sweater it may be useful to put it on with the front part on the dogs back. Since a dog's chest is broader than it's back the fit is reverse to a human.
Features to look for:
Either a wide collared sweater or a sweater that has a neck that opens a little via zipper or button will make life easier when you are trying to get the sweater on the dog. The type with a zipper are my favorite, because they are easy to get on the dog, but once they are on you can zip them up so that the neck will not droop down around the dogs shoulders.
Varying fabric thicknesses will allow you to match sweater type to the daily activity. I use Lily's t-shirt and basic grey sweatshirt if she is going to be playing outside because they are low in bulk, thin, and allow her to move easily. Her Cosby sweater and fleeces are great for snuggling up inside or doing low impact activity (like going for a walk) on a particularly cold day.
Look for fabric that is easy to wash. I don't know about your pets, but my dog sure knows how to get dirty. On the bright side, it is easier to wash a sweater than to wash the whole dog.
Features to avoid:
Try not to buy sweaters with hoods. Lily has one "hoodie" that she wears. The hood sometimes falls over her eyes and she panics. It is really a non-problem unless your dog often walks up and down stairs. On the decent gravity tends to win out - first on the hood that ends up in the dogs face, and then on the dog when it topples down the stairs.
Avoid buttons on the sleeves or any items in mouth reach that the dog could choke on. If it is nonessential to the structure of the coat, you can clip the dangerous parts off with a pair of scissors before suiting up the pup.
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