Sunday, 22 January 2017

Dog Coats - a good thing?

Dog Coats - do I or don't I ?

There is a lot of discussion, dare i say "controversy", around whether a dog should have a coat or not? After all they have there own 'coat' which mother nature and a millenia of evolution has provided.

So, do dogs 'need' an extra coat?

I think the short answer in most cases is yes. Here's why (applying UK climate and 'pets' ) 

Like the rest of us, domestic dogs - outdoor working dogs notwithstanding -  on the whole have become used to the comforts of modern life, a nice warm bed, food on tap and a fully central heated house in some cases night and day!

So, like the rest of us, upon stepping outside into the rain, snow, wind etc, they feel it!

We have to account the breed or type too, for example:
  • Very short haired - Hounds & Pointers
  • Hairless - Chinese Crested, Mexican Hairless
  • Very little warming fat - Staffies, 
  • Very dense hair that takes a long time to dry - Pomeranians & Retrievers
  • Miniatures and low slung breeds - Dachshunds & Chihuahuas
All of these types / breeds and many many more, probably need some sort help in keeping warm and / or dry.

Once you have established that your dog probably needs a coat, you will have to decide what type you need! And there is as many different designs out there as there different breeds of dogs!

Which dog coat is right for my dog?

Firstly you need to decide what you want the coat to do:
  • Primarily be waterproof, but not too thick
  • Thick and warming, but showerproof would be fine.
  • Lightweight and easy to carry when the dog is not wearing it
  • High visibility for night & road walking
  • Full coverage - legs, tummy, everywhere!
  • Stylish & fashionable
Obviously there are other considerations, such as the coats fit, washable and comfort for your dog, as well as your own personal taste and budget.

Waterproof or Showerproof?

Very few dog coats are actually waterproof. Unless it's made from Gortex or Wax (such as Barbour), it is unlikely to be truly waterproof. These coats are costly, a truly waterproof coat won't leave you with much change from £100. Anything cheaper, maybe you need to ask yourself if it is really what it claims!

While there are fabrics that have been treated to make them waterproof, with stitching, attachments, labels etc and a few washes, they soon begin to seep and cannot really claim to be waterproof.

But lets face it - if the weather is that bad that you need a wetsuit, is it really the right time to be taking yourself and your dog out for a long walk?

Most dog coats are made from  nylon based fabric, either padded or just a thin layer, while this is perfectly fine for most walks and outings, some are better than others!

Shape & Design

The choice is endless, but here are a few suggestions

A simple nylon or 'waterproof' fabric over the back design with a strap around the middle and some have back leg loops and a hole in the back to pass a lead through. Easy to fit and usually washable. These coats can be quite thin and lightweight for dogs who don't need a lot of extra warmth, to heavy lined with fleece or thick fabric for a really cosy feel. Often the least expensive option when buying a dog coat.
For example Washable Wax Dog Coat from Ancol

For extra coverage, these simple dog coats can have a extra piece that covers the tummy area such a these padded dog coats

If that is not enough coverage then go for a coat with full coverage - the whole torso covered, some have leg coverings as well. Usually designed to be quite lightweight, as they could cause a dog to overheat if they are too thick or lined with a heavy fleece. These coats take a little longer to fit and getting the size right at purchase is essential. But if your dog is happy to wear one, it's great for keeping off all the wet and muck while out and about, saving time, effort and the house when home again!.For example Doggy Onesie with full legs

If you think the full legged version would be too much for your dog (or you!) try a similar dog coat but without the legs, but still full torso coverage. The Bodysuit dog coat

Sometimes you dog may not require a coat for the obvious reasons, but for night and road walking a coat with extra visibility is a great idea. Whether it is simple reflective strips or full bright coloured material with all the bells and whistles! Again these coats are available in a vast choice and prices vary wildly.  For example Hi Viz Dog Jacket

Lastly, if your dog really doesn't need or want a coat, then how about a indoor coat / wrap for after the outing?
Towelling, fleece or microfiber indoor coats are great to help get your dog dry, warm and clean again. It can also help to keep his environment (your home & car) cleaner too. The styles are endless with different features to fit your needs. Check out this fantastic reversible towelling & fleece coat - which dries and then warms - perfect after a cold, wet & muddy walk. Turncoat Reversible Towel Dog Coat

So if you think a dog coat may be for you and your dog, there is plenty to choose from. For more information visit Dogs & Co

Friday, 13 January 2017

First Blog

First Blog

Ok, so here we go.........

Very new to this blogging thing so apologies up front if i get this a little wrong. I hope that the posts will get better as i get more on point.

My intention is to bring news, views and articles of interest to our not only our customers (Dogs & Co) and followers (Facebook), but dog lovers looking for some facts and fun on all things dog - and a little cat too.

Now i do have a tendency to ramble and i love the use of !!!!! but i also love sharing information i have gleaned and i hope in passing it on someone somewhere will find it useful or maybe just a little interesting.

and at last to my first article:

The weather plummeted here last night in North Wales and as i let my animals out for their final ablutions, it struck me how very cold and uncomfortable it must be on their tiny paws. 

Again this morning, i watched from the window (cup of hot tea in hand, hugging the radiator) how delicately the picked their way through the snow and ice. Natured answered they raced back inside and faces down in the bowl ate a hearty breakfast.

So i got to thinking, how can i make my pets lives easier in this cold spell.

Firstly i will only deal with the dog (cat the can pretty much look after herself, with a litter tray maybe when it's really inclement).

Ice and snow underfoot: 

The obvious answer is don't go out - in practice that's impossible, apart from toilet, the dog would get cabin fever in out 1/2 hour and start destroying the house!

So either i get him boots - great if your dog would tolerate them and lots do happily, but not mine - or maybe put a salve on his paws to prevent them getting chapped and irritated. It's not only ice you have to watch for, especially if you are walking on paved surfaces, there could be salt or chemicals laid down to keep them ice free.

My dog is quite low slung too, so it's not only his paws but tummy too that needs protecting. And a coat thats covers his tummy too is the perfect answer. It also helps keep his vital organs warm and his back dry.

My answer is short, walks when it's really nasty underfoot (paw), and lots of them. It maybe tempting on a beautiful blue skied winters day to go for a long ramble along the beach, but just imagine if you were being asked to go barefoot in the snow - how much fun would that be? The walks may not be the fun they are in summer, but they will help keep him trim and hopefully keep him from getting bored (and eating the kitchen door - again!)

After each walk or outing, a warm wipe down of his paws and tummy is essential to get rid of any ice, salt or chemicals that may irritate him - a must, by the way, with longer haired dogs - ice knots in their fur can get quite painful.

If your dog has got any cuts or sore patches on his paws after a winter walk little Petroleum Jelly works wonders, but watch the carpet - little vaseline paw marks don't thrill everybody!

Winter Bathing

I try to cut down bathing to an absolute minimum in winter. Dog coats can often take a long time to dry fully down to the skin and i don't want him catching a chill. But bathing also removes vital oils that help protect and keep his coat in tip top shape in winter. A dry or non rinse shampoo is great when its cold if he is getting a little stinky - which he does.

Food & Board

All animals (us included) use a lot more energy just keeping warm in winter. So making sure you dog has plenty to eat and drink is essential. It might be worth taking a look at your dogs diet and maybe increasing the protein to help boost his energy levels.

Finally, sleep.We all sleep more when we are cold, my 2 seem to sleep most of the winter away! If your pets sleep outside or in a non heated room overnight, please make sure that they have somewhere warm to curl up - an old blanket or (preferably) a nice warm bed of their own with sides or a cover to keep out the drafts will help. Mine sleeps under the duvet and doesn't move all night - he does however snore - loudly.

Well, that's it. I hope it is of some help or interest to someone somewhere. All pretty obvious stuff, but sometimes it's the pretty obvious stuff that unlocks an unobvious thought or action that makes all the difference.

For more information on looking after your pets this winter take a look at these great sites:

ASPCA - cold weather safety tips

PETMD - 8 tips for caring for your pet this winter

Dogs Trust - Winter weather advice

Dogs & Co - Chilly Dogs

Thank you 🐾