Canine Clothing a History of Dog Clothes and Travel Needs – Part III

Kiki Hamann – World Traveler Harness – 2010

In Part I of this series we discussed the history of canine fashion and in part II we discussed whether it was cruel to clothe canines purely for adornment, or at the very least with fashion in mind.  We also touched on clothing canines based on a need to maintain good health, prevent illness, discomfort or injury.

It is with a focus on wellbeing that we approach Part III of this series as we tackle canine clothing with travel in mind.  This is a “travel with small dog” blog after all! Our hope is to assist those possibly planning to journey to climates with more extreme weather conditions.

Many dogs are exported all over the world and uprooted from their original climate at a faster rate than evolutions ability to assist. While looking at dogs from a global perspective, we noticed that there are in fact four distinct different dog categories with regard to their type of coat.  The coat is really the number one indicator of weather sensitivities.

For example some dogs should absolutely not wear coats or sweaters in the colder months for it impedes their own ability to cope by stopping the growth of their winter coat. Labrador retrievers fall into this category.  Let’s face it there is a staggering difference between a Siberia Husky and a Chinese Crested!  Let us share with you what we discovered so that you may be better equipped to decide what your breed of dog may or may not need (versus what you do for enjoyment!).  So let us take a look at the four types of coats and consider where canine clothing may benefit:

Each and every dog has sensitive lungs and kidneys and it is important to make sure that those areas don’t become cold or wet for long periods of time.  This can lead to lung and kidney ailments like pneumonia and infections.  If a dog is ill and has a known condition (ex: arthritis) there may also be an extra need for protection from the elements when they perhaps did not require it before.

Boots are an often-overlooked item especially for dogs designed for the cold.  The city is not a natural environment and has many pollutants on the ground.  Even if the cold and salt do not bother a particular breed of dog – please consider that many canines have been known to get cancer from licking the salt and de-icing chemicals off their paws. In addition in the summer, hot cement and asphalt are often far hotter than soil and as such have been known to give severe burns to sensitive paws. Look at your environment and help your dog adapt.

Disclaimer: The following list is based on a Chihuahua’s needs (single coat). Please note that depending on your dog’s breed you will need to adapt or omit certain items.  This list is designed as a guide only.

Sunny Destination:

  1. Sun guard – to protect from the sun if going to a place where shade may be difficult to come 
  2. A lightweight harness – many harnesses are made of heavy fabric – or leather that does not breathe well.  These become like wearing a sweater on a hot day. Harnesses and not collars are recommended for small breeds
  3. Doggles – protect eyes on the beach from sun and sand. Blue eye dogs are prone to severe eye issues from over exposure to sun -especially near water when sailing or on the beach.
  4. Cooling vest – this helps regulate body temperature when air conditioning is not available (alternatively a cooling pad is useful for very large dogs).
  5. Mesh carrier or lightweight sling: This is the toughest part of a warm climate trip.  Carriers that breathe and do not act like a sauna are hard to find. Look for one that is made of a lightweight fabric and an open concept with a mesh-closing flap for allowing air circulation.  For slings make sure there is no fur lining and that the fabric does not retain/absorb heat and lets the breeze through.  Black or any dark colors (like chocolate brown) are not good options.

Chilly Dog – 100% Wool – Boyfriend Sweater 2011

Cold Destination:

  1. Snowsuit – For extreme cold days and activities like snowshoeing
  2. Wind/Rain breaker (spring) – sweaters get soggy and do not protect from the wind many dogs catch pneumonia from soggy sweaters (if you must go with a sweater make sure it is wool)
  3. Boots – Pawz (look like balloons) are a great choice for keeping salt off paw pads in wintery cities
  4. Coats – Some may also be fashion statements but still serve their purpose of keeping warm.  Choose one that is appropriate for the climate. Coats range from light weight to fur and thermal linings
  5. Wool sweaters – Wool retains heat when wet. Why own more than one? This allows you to wash one and not have to wait for it to dry to go out again.  A second dry sweater to change into on the ride home is a good idea after a long walk in the rain or snow
  6. Insulated or lined carrier bag/sling: Sometimes even if out in the right clothing you just get cold no matter what; this is when the right carrier is important.  The sling is used for activities such as snowshoeing and anything that is hands free for the bipeds.  The bag is more for the city. Black and other dark colors are a great choice since these colors retain heat. 
You may also use a warm blanket to line an existing carrier.
  7. Hand warmer – (available at most pharmacies) this acts as a heat source and promotes a faster increase in warmth inside the sling or bag.

With that we conclude our three part series on canine clothing in the hopes you found it useful and informative. In time we will certainly revisit this controversial subject but for now we simply invite you to view the Montecristo Fashion Files for ideas, brands we use and have come to love, or just for your pleasure.  If you have questions please… Just ask and/or leave a comment here!



26 Comments on “Canine Clothing a History of Dog Clothes and Travel Needs – Part III

  1. Fantastic…. thanks for sharing this weatlth of information with us all.. I have shared to my timeline…

    • Thank you Skipper! This one came about because I often get asked by those living in warm climates what to do when visiting a colder location … It occurred to me that this went both ways! But then a friend mentioned how her Dog (a Lab mix) should not wear a sweater and that led me to look into the actual issue. This has been a fun series! Thank you for your support!

  2. Thanks Montecristo! You rock!!! We are big fans of stylish, weather appropriate, fun and especially stylish clothing. When Raja goes to South America in the winter, he looks best in colorful, ethnic knits. In the US West, we go for rugged, natural wools. In Europe, we are a little more tailored. By the sea, always a visor to keep out sun and wind. But that’s the fun part… The serious part is that clothing protects dogs from discomfort and helps everybody have a great trip. Keep on traveling, you adorable puppy!

    • We will and we will do so with style! LOL We are so honoured that you have stopped in and left a comment. I have yet to tolerate the visor … how did you go about that?

  3. Fantastic and helpful information!! This informative article will bebefit many who travel with they tiny pups!

  4. Once again, very informative. When you say “sun guard” are you talking about some kind of lotion? My Lucy has medium length fur. It’s thin…we can see her pink skin through it. It is similar to a white Maltise. Vet seems to think there is is some Chinese Crested in her….skin is very pink and spotted. I can’t imagine slathering some kind of sun screeen lotion on her every time she goes outdoors this summer.

    • Thank you Susan – thanks to your comment I have added a link to what we mean about a sun guard. Never ever use lotions. SPF chemicals are poison to dogs and as such not recommended anywhere they can lick it off. For us that means … it is a no no. We have known people to apply some on the inside tip of Chihuahua ears. We just worry that it still somehow might get ingested. Thank you Susan for allowing us to be clearer in our post.

  5. Thank you that you have taken the time and wrote these articles! Our dog is a member of our family, we love him very much and wear it whenever necessary. Even at home sometimes. We do not travel much, but in our country is very hot and very cold days and your articles were very instructive for us! Once again thank you very much!I hope more people read it! We love you!

    • Thank you Radmila!! every pet should be so lucky and have a forever home with such obvious love. Here too we have the extremes in weather with very cold winters and very hot and humid summers (as you know)… although it is happy naked time at home! lol

  6. Dear Monte, can you give us information about your green boots – brand, manufacturer, site, etc. Thank you very much.
    Big kisses!

    • Added the link in the blog!! thank you for asking … this way i know to add the link!! here it is as well:
      We like these because I will walk in them – unlike other boots there is no adaptation period. I can feel the ground under my paws so i don’t have to learn how to walk in them. They do not keep warm – just dry and salt free.

  7. Another great article! You look so great in your stylish clothes, Monte, and you are rivalling Shenzi as the BEST model to work with! (you certainly have a much better stylist than Shenzi, though!)

    • Awe … nah … just a great PhoDographer!!! Album will be here – just a small technical difficulty. THANK YOU for your talent and patience!

  8. Thank you for the information. I will look into getting Lucy something for this summer’s sunny days.

  9. Hey Monte, I found this on-line. It is the only FDA compliant sunscreen for dogs (and horses). Hopefully this is something that is, or will be, available in Canada to protect our little ones. Safe even if licked. I will do some research to see where it is available.

    • That is very interesting! Thank you Pepito and Mom. Maybe we should tell WAG about it!

  10. So enjoyed reading once again, thank you, and i completely agree that clothes for dogs are for their comfort and warmth in the first place, but there are dogs, though, like my Matilda, who just adore to dress up, she ask for it, she is helping me to dress her up and then show off, she is a society girl, definitely, 🙂

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