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JoAnna Lou
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Canine Couture
Does your dog really need that coat?

Dog clothing ranges from frilly dresses to warm fleece coats. The popularity of canine couture has even given way to the annual Pet Fashion Week. But, given that most dogs have fur, are these outfits really necessary?

According to Dr. Bonnie Beaver of the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs don’t get sick when the mercury drops since there is no cold virus that affects them. She says that unless your pup is tiny with short hair, dogs are rarely bothered by freezing temperatures. But Beaver stresses that clothing can be potentially dangerous. 

Some dogs, like many northern breeds, regulate their body temperature with an insulating layer of fur that lifts off their bodies in warm weather and pulls in close to trap heat in cold weather. Putting clothes on these dogs can lead to heat stroke.

Clothes can also restrict movement, hurting joins and muscles, or get caught in long hair, causing discomfort. 

My pups only have two items of clothing, a cool coat for warm weather and a rain coat, though I can’t say that I haven’t been tempted by cute canine outfits. Fortunately for my dogs, most clothes look funny on hairy Shelties.

Certainly most dogs don’t really need any clothes, but I do agree that there are some dogs that may need some extra warmth in the winter. 

What do you think about canine clothing?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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