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Do Dogs Need Sweaters? How to Keep Your Pal Warm in Cold Weather

As cold weather slowly arrives around Katy, you bundle up. But what about your dog? Should she be bundling up too? If you’re curious whether a sweater would do any good, read on! For many pups, a sweater or coat is more than just a fashion statement.

Does My Dog Need a Sweater?

Many dogs have fur long enough to protect them from low temperatures. Other types of dog could use a little help! If your dog fits into one of the categories below, it may be time to do some clothes shopping.

1. She’s a Puppy

A puppy absolutely should wear a coat in cold weather. Since she’s so close to the ground, the extra protection can help them keep comfortable as they play outside or go through potty training.

2 Easy Ways to Potty Train Your Puppy

Also, if you have a puppy that will need a sweater later in life, puppyhood is the right time to start training them to be comfortable in clothing.

2. She’s a Smaller Breed or Has Shorter Legs 

Just like puppies, smaller breeds sit close to the ground and can benefit from sweaters. If your dog is a small, miniature, or toy breed, she generally won’t be able to retain enough body heat to keep comfortable during the colder months, especially if she also has shorter hair.

These small breeds are just a few examples:

  • Chihuahua
  • French bulldog
  • Toy terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Corgi
  • Dachshund
  • Basset Hound

3. She Has Short Hair

Even larger pups that are short haired or groomed to have short hair, like poodles, can benefit from sweaters in the wintertime. Without the long fur, they have a hard time retaining heat.

do dogs need sweaters

4. She’s a Senior

Senior dogs, just like humans, tend to get colder more easily, and are more prone to problems like arthritis that can be made worse by the cold.

5. She Has a Medical Condition 

If your dog is ill or has a weak immune system, put her in a sweater or coat before she heads outside. Even young dogs with medical issues benefit from the extra layer!

6. She Recently Had Surgery

Recent surgery could make your dog susceptible to other illnesses. If she dog an operation, talk to your vet about post-op care to see if she needs a sweater on colder days.

When Does My Dog Need a Sweater?

Bundle her up when:

  • It’s 45 degrees or colder outside, especially if she’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes
  • It snows
  • You’re inside and you don’t like to run the heater often

How to Find the Perfect Outer Layer!

When looking for the perfect sweater or jacket for your dog, fashion is fun, but keep substance in mind too!

Look for the Optimal Material

Dog coats and sweaters come in a variety of materials, and what works for one dog may not be best for another.

Wool, for example, can be wonderful for very low temperatures, but your pup may find the material itchy. In this area, a better choice is probably a mix between wool, cotton, and acrylic. A poncho is a good choice if it’ cold and raining or snowing and your dog doesn’t need something extra heavy. Fleece is also an option.

No matter what type of sweater or coat you choose, observe your dog to make sure she’s comfortable in it!

Vet Tip: Invest in outerwear that’s easy to clean. There’s no doubt your pup will get it messy!

Make Sure It Fits Well

While you might want to bundle up to the point that you can barely move in your winter clothing, that’s not the best for your pup. To ensure her sweater fits your dog properly, check around her collar and chest. You should be able to fit two fingers between the coat and the dog.

Chose a coat that covers her stomach but leaves room for her tail and allows her to go to the bathroom. A coat that works for a female dog may not work for a male pup.

Avoid Dog Sweaters with Sleeves

Sweaters and coats with sleeves are cute, but they’re very rarely practical. They can restrict your dog’s movement and make her uncomfortable. Whichever sweater you choose, make sure your pooch can move normally.

Try It on At the Store

Dog coats and sweaters have sizes (extra small, small, large, and extra large), but these are general guidelines. If you’re buying clothes at a pet store, ask if your pup can try the sweater on before you purchase it.

What If My Dog Doesn’t Want to Wear a Sweater?

If your dog isn’t used to a sweater, she may be reluctant to put on clothing, no matter how warm it keeps her. As with most dog behavior, training can do great things! The earlier you start, the easier it will be for your dog to get comfortable. Follow these steps, and make sure you have treats on hand for every step of the process!

Step 1: Show your dog her sweater, allowing her to sniff it. Repeat this for a few days.

Step 2: Rub the sweater on her fur gently to get her accustomed to the texture. Repeat for a few days, holding the sweater against her fur for longer each time.

Step 3: Put the sweater on your dog for short periods of time. After each success (and treat), put the sweater on for longer.

Even with training, not all dogs respond positively to clothing. If she refuses to wear a sweater or jacket or refuses to move once it’s on, limit her time outside in cold weather with it on to just a few minutes.

Sweaters look great on dogs, but they also serve an important purpose! If your dog needs a coat, do your shopping for the perfect fit before winter arrives, or put it on her Christmas list. She’ll be cozy and fashionable!

12 Gifts Your Dog Will Love!

Fill Your Pet’s Stocking with the Best This Christmas!

You’ve finished off most of your Christmas list for your family, but what about your fur babies? They’ll love a stocking of their own to investigate on Christmas morning. Here are a few stocking stuffer ideas for dogs, cats, and birds!

Stocking Stuffers for Dogs

Toys

The most obvious stocking stuffer for a dog is a brand-new toy (or toys)! While the kids are playing with their own, your pup can enjoy his as well. Something with a squeaker will add to the joyful cacophony. This moose is available for both small and large dogs. Don’t want a moose, or feel like mixing and matching a bit? KONG® has 10 different animals to choose from!

If you want to stay in the Christmas spirit, but would like a more peaceful Christmas morning, a tug toy is a great way to spend time with your dog. This one comes in Christmas colors! Natural fetch toys can also be a unique choice.

And if you have a pup that never sits still and never bores of fetch, you may find the perfect present in an automatic ball launcher. Although not a stocking stuffer, your dog will no doubt thank you for this one. Just see how nuts this dog gets!

Of course, if your dog has simpler tastes, you can never go wrong with a stocking stuffed to the brim with tennis balls.

stocking stuffer ideas

Treats

Treats are a given in any good stocking—for dogs or humans! A few of your pup’s favorites (or a whole bag) will never steer you wrong!

Christmas is a special season, though, and if you want to treat them, opt for chicken strips or even their very own ice cream—in peanut butter flavor no less! Just put that ice cream in the stocking last minute to avoid any melting disasters.

You can also make dog treats work for you by helping to clean your pup’s pearly whites. Check out our recommendations here.

Occupy your dog with a treat, and he may forget to beg at Christmas dinner!

Handmade Gifts

Handmade gifts are always treasured when given to family and friends because they know you took the time and effort to make something special.

Combine a tennis ball and treats for the ultimate dog toy. With a knife, cut a hole in the tennis ball, and place treats inside. Your dog will become a ball of fun trying to get the treats out on Christmas morning!

Old shirts are great too, especially because they smell like you. When braided, they create the perfect tug-and-toss toy. Towels and socks also work great for this creation, especially for those fur babies that just can’t seem to get enough of your socks.

Stocking Stuffers for Cats

Probably like your parents, shopping for cats can be a bit more difficult. They can be fickle! Knowing a few of your feline’s favorite things will get you far on Christmas morning, but here are a couple ideas if you’re stumped.

Toys

For most kitties, you will never go wrong with springs! We have yet to meet a cat that doesn’t love them. Although you’ll lose quite a few under the stove and couch, they’ll provide endless entertainment and plenty of time for fetch. They’re also perfect for stuffing in a stocking!

A concealed motion toy is also a great idea for a stocking stuffer. It’s similar to a wand, but allows you to take a break once in a while.

And, of course, wands are beloved toys. They’re great for bonding, and feathers are irresistible to most kitties.

Another toy you’ll never go wrong with is anything cat-nip infused. This banana could be a hit!

Treats

Just like with presents, cats can be a bit fickle with treats and food. Although you can definitely experiment, you may want to stick to your kitty’s favorites unless you know he would like something different!

There are plenty of ways to turn treat time into fun time. If your cat is clever, puzzle toys like this mouse can entertain him for hours as he tries to get his treats out!

And, of course, a must-have in any cat stocking is cat nip!

Handmade

For more stocking stuffer ideas, there are plenty of easy-to-make, handmade presents out there for kitties. One is a kick stick. You’ll need a sewing machine (or needle and thread if you prefer to hand sew), stuffing, a sturdy fabric, and, of course, cat nip! Even if you’re new to sewing, this is a pretty simple project.

You can also make your own kitty wand or use those old shirts you’ve been meaning to toss to make a mouse toy! Both projects require only simple crafting skills and take a short amount of time.

Don’t forget: boxes. You’ll have plenty of empty ones on Christmas morning. Keep them out for your kitty to explore!

stocking stuffer ideas

Stocking Stuffers for Birds

Just like cats, birds can be fickle when it comes to toys and treats. They definitely have their own personalities! Here are a few stocking stuffer ideas to get you started.

Toys

A foot toy can fit perfectly into a stocking and provide your bird hours of stimulation. These barbells, for example, are perfect for throwing and for watching as you pick them up! Chewy toys are another option that allow for stimulation and fun.

Birds also enjoy foraging for their food, so you may want to include a new puzzle toy inside your bird’s stocking! This one can be filled with fruits, pellets, veggies, and more.

Treats

Treats are always great to include in your bird’s puzzle balls and toys. Their favorites can provide them with the mental and physical stimulation they need and encourage them to use their natural skills and behaviors.

A treat you could consider is a pet kabob because a bird’s gotta chew!

Handmade

Fresh chop could be the perfect “handmade” gift for your bird. Include all their favorite ingredients as a special treat on Christmas morning! What you mix in depends on your bird’s taste. Just make sure everything is finely mashed before feeding to your bird.

Birds are often quite attracted to some of the items we consider everyday objects. Poker chips and frozen treat sticks are great for chucking around the house or chewing on. Keep an eye on them, though, for chips, breaks, and splinters to avoid harm to your feathered friend.

Another simple, handmade present is balled-up paper with a treat inside. Simple and fast, this is a great idea for Christmas morning—or any morning! It provides the perfect excuse for foraging.

These are just a few ideas for your pet’s stocking! While some may not quite fit into a normal-sized stocking, we’re sure your furry or feathered friend would never object to an oversized one. We hope you, your family, and your pets have a wonderful holiday season!

In search of even more—and larger—awesome gift ideas? Check out our gift guide for cats, and for dogs!

14 Cat Christmas Presents: The Ultimate Gift List for Felines

Christmas is right around the corner! As you’re busy purchasing the perfect gifts for your family and friends, don’t forget about your kitty. After all, he or she is part of the family as well.

Cats and Gifts

Whether your cat’s playful or aloof, all kitties have one thing in common: They love gifts! Whether it’s a new toy or a treat, Fluffy’s eyes will light up when she sees her new toy. Besides the fun of getting to see your cat play (and playing with it), the best part of buying a Christmas present for your cat is that you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to satisfy it.

What kind of gift will your special feline fall in love with? Here are a few ideas for presents that can be purchased or made at home.

Buy a Cat Christmas Present

1. Cat Dancer

Cats can be pretty easy to please! This charmer wand is cheap, simple, and will keep your furry friend entertained for hours.

cat christmas presents

2. Catnip Cat Toys

Cats love mice. They also love catnip. What happens when you combine both? Hours of entertainment for your kitty!

cat christmas presents

3. Cat Tree Scratcher Play House Condo

Is your home simply not enough space for your cat? This 72-inch condo gives your cat their own abode with plenty of scratching poles to boot!

cat christmas presents

4. Thermal Cat Mat

House getting cold? For an electricity-free way to keep your cat warm, get this thermal mat that reflects your cat’s body heat.

cat christmas presents

5. Food Maze

Stimulate your cat’s mind while giving them a treat (making them love you forever). Try out this treat maze for lots of feline fun.

cat christmas presents

6. Lion Mane

Keep your cat’s head warm while making them feel like a ferocious beast (and giving you tons of cute photo ops) with this lion wig!

cat christmas presents

7. Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Do you have a generous budget? Why not upgrade your kitty’s litter box with a self-cleaning one? Not only will your cat get a fresh place to use the bathroom, it’s much more pleasant for humans too!

cat christmas presents

Make a Cat Christmas Present

Making gifts at home can sometimes feel like a lost art, but you can bring it back through toys and treats for your kitty. Many of these can be made from items already found around the house!

8. Yarn Ball Catnip

Yarn is a timeless cat toy. Take it to the next level with catnip-infused yarn balls.

Note: If string is swallowed, it can be dangerous for your cat. Keep your eye on them as they play!

cat christmas presents

9. Feline Detour Tunnels

Are you skilled in architecture or just love a good DIY challenge? Why not create a transit system for your cat?

cat christmas presents

10. Cardboard Cat Playhouse

This is perfect if you have a lot of boxes around. Use cardboard to create your cat’s own awesome house!

cat christmas presentsd

11. Pipe-Cleaner Cat Toy

While this pipe-cleaner toy will need to be refreshed once in a while, it’s wonderful in its simplicity.

cat christmas presents

12. Puzzle Cat Feeder

A puzzle feeder is a great way to exercise your cat’s brain and help them have some fun that isn’t just chasing a string. Use a water bottle to create your own puzzle feeder.

cat christmas presents

13. Homemade Salmon & Oat Treats

Want to gift your feline something yummy they’ll love? Make a healthy oat-salmon treat!

cat christmas presents

14. Menswear Mouse Toy

Craft a mouse toy from spare clothes. Not only will it be durable, it’s extremely cheap to make!

cat christmas presents

Have Fun!

Is your cat’s Christmas gift becoming a little clearer now? Whether your gift is homemade, store-bought, inexpensive, or a luxury item, your kitty will cherish your present and especially the time you spend playing together! What will you be getting your kitty for Christmas?

The Ultimate Gift List for Dogs: 12 Ways to Treat Your Pup This Season!

As you wrap up your Christmas shopping (or get started on your list of what to buy for friends and family), don’t forget the dogs! Your pup is one of your best companions, and if you’re like many dog owners, you think of Fido as your own family.

Thankfully, you don’t have to spend too much for your pup. You won’t need to give him the latest video game console or buy him a fancy new outfit. Your dog will be overjoyed no matter what the gift is.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Pet Fountain

Spruce up your dog’s drinking experience by turning their bowl into a water fountain!

dog christmas gifts

2. Gourmet Dog Treat Gift Box

The holidays are a time to eat and be merry. What’s the best way to treat your pup? How about a box of 75 treats?!

dog christmas gifts3. Knitted Pull Over Hooded Dog Sweater

Keep the chill off during those long walks. (One of you has to work off the turkey and Christmas cookies!) This cozy sweater will keep your pal warm.dog christmas gifts

4. Pet Paw Protection Wax

Speaking of walks, sometimes your dog’s paws can feel extra cold or get too hot in the summer. These invisible wax puppy shoes will protect them against heat, cold, sand, and more!

dog christmas gifts5. GREENIES™ Dog Dental Treats

Work on your dog’s bright smile by giving him a pack of GREENIES. Freshmint is the perfect flavor for the season! (Want more of our recommendations for effective dental chews? Click here.)

dog christmas gifts

Make a present.

If you’re the kind of dog owner who prefers to make your gifts with love at home, here are a few ideas for going the homemade route.

6. Homemade Dog Treats

Bake some homemade peanut butter dog treats. You can even use Christmas cookie cutters to infuse these snacks with holiday spirit!

dog christmas gifts

7. Customized Pet Bowl

Make a customized pet bowl using dot painting.

8. Denim Dog Toy

Looking for a cheap, sturdy, and homemade plaything? Try a denim toy.

dog christmas gifts

9. Easy & Cheap Dog Toy

Your dog’s brain needs stimulation, just like yours. Why not craft a homemade treat puzzle from a tennis ball to do the job?

dog christmas gifts

10. Recycled Dog Sweater

Dog sweaters don’t have to couture to be cute! Hit up the thrift store, and construct one yourself!

dog christmas gifts

11. Easy, Washable Pet Bed

Does your dog deserve a better place to sleep? Make him his own dog bed!

dog christmas gifts12. Bake-A-Bone™

Looking to whip up some fresh, homemade treats for your pup? Try Bake-a-Bone. You can bake four treats at once!

dog christmas gifts

Don’t forget to wrap all these presents in some edible, non-toxic, doggie wrapping paper.

Enjoy Christmas with Your Furry Friend!

Hide the presents underneath the tree, and when it’s time, give the wrapped gifts to your dog. He’ll tear open his presents, and you’ll get to watch his eyes light up as he plays with his new toys or chows down on some cute treats.

There are plenty of other doggie gifts for pups to enjoy—your options are almost endless! Look around your nearest pet store or even around your house to see if there’s anything you can make for Fido with safe household items. He’ll enjoy any gift you give him!

5 Fur-tastic Ideas for Dressing Up Your Dog, and How to Do It Safely

As the holiday season approaches, you probably already have in mind all sorts of festive getups for your pup. What better way to get into the spirit—of Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.—than to throw a costume on your four-legged pal and take some adorable holiday photos?

Dressing up your dog for the holidays—or any time of year—can be a fun way to bond with your pup. But if you’ve ever tried to dress your dog, you may know that they tend to shy away from clothing and accessories.

How do you safely and enjoyable dress your dog, so it can join in on the holiday fun safely and comfortably?

Beware of…

The first thing that you’ll want to be aware of when choosing an outfit for your dog is whether or not it’s safe for your furry friend to wear. Here are some tips to ensure the safety of your dog’s wardrobe!

…improper fit

Fit is very important when it comes to wardrobe safety. Clothing that is too large or too small is likely to be uncomfortable for your dog and poses safety issues:

  • Clothes that are too tight might constrict their movement or breathing.
  • Clothes that are too large could cause them to trip or become tangled in the fabric.

Before you purchase anything or force your pooch to be in a costume for long, put the clothing on your pup to test the fit. The clothes should be snug against its body, but it should still have full range of motion.

You’ll also want to check the collar of the costume. Ideally, it should be loose enough that you can fit a few fingers between the fabric and your dog’s neck.

…add-ons

One very common hazard of dog clothing is add-ons, like buttons, pins, sequins, etc. These have the potential to come loose and become a choking hazard for your pet. Or your dog could figure out how to chew the accessory while it’s still on!

Make sure add-ons to your dog’s costume are securely attached and/or are too large for your pup to swallow.

…uncomfortable fabrics

While fabric choice doesn’t have a direct effect on your dog’s safety, stuffing it into an uncomfortable material may cause it to act out and potentially injure itself. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton to make sure your pup feels safe and comfy in its new outfit.

dress up dog

…signs that your dog is unhappy

If your pet is in danger or feels unsafe in its clothing, it will act accordingly. Watch for signs that your dog is struggling with the garment, like excessive coughing due to a too-tight collar or not interacting with dogs or people the way it normally would. If your dog is showing signs of distress, immediately remove it from the clothing. 

Fur-tastic Ideas for Dressing Your Dog!

Now that you know how to keep your dog safe and comfortable, you can start putting together a doggy wardrobe that will make your pup the envy of the dog park and your family gathering. Here are some must-have additions to your pup’s closet to help it ring in any holiday in style:

1. An Ugly Holiday Sweater

Ugly holiday sweaters are all the rage with humans, so why not get one for your four-legged friend? Snap a photo of the whole family decked out in silly sweaters—Fido included—and use it as your holiday card!

2. Themed Costumes

The holidays are a perfect time to make your dog extra-festive! Whether you want to dress your pup up like bacon for Halloween, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, or just a cute little reindeer, the holidays are a great time to experiment (safely) with your pup’s look.

3. A New Coat

Both stylish AND functional, a warm and cozy coat is a staple for a puppy’s wardrobe, especially in cold climates. Look for something plush and warm to shield your pup from harsh winter weather, keeping it nice and toasty through holiday storms.

Coats are especially important if your dog is going to be outside for an extended period of time, or if it has a short or thin coat.

4. Boots

Boots are also a must for harsh holiday weather. Ice, snow, and salt used to clear roads can damage your pet’s paws; boots add an extra layer of protection. Just make sure they fit correctly; ill-fitting boots can be extremely uncomfortable for your pup.

5. Jewelry

If you just can’t get your dog to stay in a sweater or costume, don’t worry! It can still embrace the holiday spirit with some pet-friendly sparkle. Pet jewelry is all the rage, and there’s no better time to add a little bling to your pup’s life than the holidays. A bedazzled necklace or a collar with holiday charms is a great way to add some personality to your pup if it doesn’t prefer clothing.

Where Can I Find Clothing for My Dog?

There are a ton of resources for finding adorable, appropriate, holiday-themed clothing for your dog. As Halloween, Hanukkah, Christmas, and more approach, many local pet stores–and even vets’ offices–stock up on holiday-related clothing, so check in and see if anything catches your eye. The benefit to buying your pup’s clothing in a store, rather than online, is that you can bring your dog with you and make sure the clothing fits properly before committing to a purchase.

But you’re likely to find the best selection online. Large shopping websites like Amazon and Overstock have entire departments dedicated to outfit and accessory options for your pet. There’s even pet-clothing-specific online retailers like BaxterBoo that exclusively sell items for your dog’s wardrobe. With holiday shipping options, you can have a costume delivered with time to celebrate!

Everyone loves getting dressed up around the holidays. Bring your dog in on the fun! With these tips for safely and enjoyably dressing your dog, you’ll have the happiest, most stylish pup on the block.

Harness vs. Collar: Which Should You Choose?

Decisions, decisions!

There are many decisions you have to make when you bring a dog home and throughout the time it lives with you. Which breed should you choose? Should you adopt or buy? What training methods should you use?

One question you might not have considered – but definitely should – is: Harness vs. collar? Which should I choose?

What’s the difference?

First, let’s discuss the thing a harness and a collar have in common: Both are used to strap on a leash. And that’s where the similarities end.

A collar wraps only around a dog’s neck, while a harness typically wraps around a dog’s neck or shoulders and torso.

harness vs. collarWhich should I choose?

At first, choosing between a collar or a harness for your dog may seem like an aesthetic decision, but there are important factors that you should consider that go beyond how your dog looks wearing one or the other.

A collar can carry a few risks, depending on your dog’s breed or behavior. Since a collar goes around an animal’s most delicate spot, its neck, a risk of injury exists should your dog lunge or move ahead quickly while you’re walking it. Bigger dogs are better able to tolerate collars, but if your dog is small, choking as a result of a collar could cause serious injury! For toy pups, especially, harnesses minimize risk.

Collars also have more of a tendency to slip off than harnesses do. If your dog is prone to running away or slipping out of restraints, a harness is a good option.

However, if your dog is medium to large, doesn’t lunge when you walk it, and is in the prime of its life, a collar is likely a fine option.

What are the cons of harnesses?

It may seem like collars have disadvantages, and a harness is the perfect option! However, there are a few cons to harnesses as well. For example, a harness could be uncomfortable for your pup at first, especially if it’s used to a wearing a collar. It might also be an adjustment for you, as a harness may require a little bit more time to put on your dog, and more attention may need to be paid to fit at first.

harness vs. collarAlso, some harnesses don’t have the option to attach identification. The standard collar can hold ID tags, which is important for any dog, regardless of whether they’ve been micro-chipped or not. If you do choose to walk your dog with a harness, be sure to purchase one with the option to attach ID tags. They could be the difference between a lost dog and a found one.

What’s the verdict?

There’s no one right choice for all dog owners. The decision you make depends on your dog’s breed, its age, and its behavior. Next time you take your dog for a walk, observe whether it’s prone to getting distracted, jumping, running forward, and lunging suddenly. If so, you should probably walk your pup in a harness to avoid injury.

For toy-dog owners, collars aren’t the best option. They can push against a toy’s delicate neck, causing it to choke. A harness is a better option if your pooch is tiny.

If your dog is an adult, is fully trained, and is a larger size, consider a collar.

While the equipment you use to walk your dog may take a backseat to things like playing with it, petting it, and generally having fun, take some time to consider which option – a collar or a harness – will keep your dog safest and happiest.

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