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It Seems Like A Good Idea To Put A Sweater On Rex

by Sarah Handel
Dec 6, 2010

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Yesterday, while stopped at a stoplight, I spotted something pretty cute across the street: a small dog, possibly a French bulldog, in a Santa sweater.  It was all red with the requisite white "fur," and looked adorable.  I'm not a dog owner, though, so I wondered:  Do dogs really need coats and sweaters when it's cold outside?

Sure, they seem sensible — it was right around freezing out, and the dog was small and didn't seem to be well-insulated on his own. Well, take it from the New York Post, or, rather, Dr. Bonnie Beaver, spokeswoman for the American Veterinary Medical Association. Unless your dog is small and thin-haired, like a chihuahua, that canine-sized Burberry trench could be doing more harm than good.

According to Dr. Beaver, dressing your dog can interfere with his or her ability to regulate body temperature. In larger, furrier breeds, that can lead to heatstroke, or death. Plus, your "dog is not going to get the sniffles like we do, because there is no cold virus that affects them," so you don't need to worry about doggy sneezes and snot.

So, for most dogs, dressing up is more about the owners' desire to express their style than the dog's welfare.  Says Dr. Beaver, dog owners "who want to make a fashion statement, they can do it with a colored collar.*"

*Can't resist adding this link from NPR's Beth Novey: Cats celebrating the festival of lights. For the most part, their prayer shawls and yarmulkes seem to follow Dr. Beaver's guidelines for pet clothing, but I am not a veterinarian so I cannot say that definitively. Happy Hanukkah!

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