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Clothing Needs

Chihuahua Clothes

Overview

If you have a Chihuahua, you have most likely thought about Chihuahua clothes at one time or another. It is very important to understand that clothes for Chihuahua dogs is a lot more than "dressing up your dog'.

It can often mean keeping your tiny Chi safe and protected from the outside elements.

Aside from outside elements, tiny Chihuahua puppies often need extra help keeping warm, and putting clothing on them is just what they need.

We'll take a look at this in more detail...
What to Put on Your Chihuahua and When to Put it On

Booties and Shoes

These are needed most often during 2 different times:
  • Outside during icy, snowy conditions when a puppy or dog needs protection from ice melt chemicals & needs more traction
  • Outside when the weather is very hot, which makes the pavement dangerous to paw pads
Clothes for Chihuahuas most certainly includes dog booties and for a good reason. A dog's paws are often thought to be tough and invincible; but this is not true.  The paws are made of skin. Granted, it is thicker skin than what is on the body, but never-the-less, it isskin that is sensitive to heat and prone to injury. 

When it is icy, snowy and cold outside, a Chihuahua should have protection against those elements. If you put "ice melt" down on your sidewalks and/or if your city's municipal services spreads this chemical on roadways, you will not want this to touch your Chihuahua's paws as it can cause chemical burn.

Another reason to protect the paws with shoes or boots is to provide traction for a puppy or dog that would otherwise find icy conditions to be slippery. A fall on ice - especially for a senior dog- can cause injury to the hip and/or back; though dogs of all ages are at risk for this. 

When it is very hot outside a whole new set of possible risks arise. The one that you will want to be more aware of is the surface temperature of the pavement that your Chihuahua will be walking on.  

Sidewalks, pathways and roads heat up very quickly.  Owners are not immediately aware of this since they have shoes on that creates a barrier. 

Dogs need that same type of barrier so that they are not walking 'bare-paw'. This is where clothing, including shoes, plays a role. 

Another reason for this sort of accessory is to protect a dog from contact allergies

Elements ranging from lawn care fertilizers to pollen that has settled onto grassy areas can cause moderate to severe itching for dogs that are sensitive to these triggers.  An added bonus is that you will also be protecting the paws from insect stings, possible ticks and splinters.

Lastly, any time that a dog walks on a sandy surface, tiny sand particles easily become wedged between paw pads. Many dogs will have a low tolerance for lake and ocean shorelines due to this.  

Placing boots or shoes on your Chihuahua will offer a comfortable walking experience.  The simple act of slipping on shoes can turn land-lover dog into one that thoroughly enjoys exploring the coastline. 
Chihuahua with sweater on
Mojo
Photo courtesy of Deborah
Chihuahua in warm blue vest
Brady
Photo courtesy of Christine Hart
Sweetpea
Photo courtesy of Donald &Arla Kirby
Chihuahua in red sweater with polka dots
Raja
Photo courtesy of Jessica Cordova
Sweaters and Shirts 

There are 2 different times when this type of Chihuahua clothing is needed:
  • When a Chi is very young and first away from the dam (if the room is below a certain temperature) 
  • At any age, when it is below a certain temperature - most often when you take your Chihuahua outside  
Let's take a look at age appropriate clothing:

Newborns

A newborn is a puppy between the ages of 1 day old and 7 weeks old. During this time, keeping the pup warm is very important.

From the day of birth until 3-4 weeks (4 weeks is recommended), the puppy should not leave the dam. It is important that he or she receive the heat that she offers. Any time that the puppy is taken away, their body heat will rapidly drop.

Therefore, if the newborn is away from the dam, be sure to have a heating pad under the blanket in the whelping box. A heating pad and the heat of the dam will be more than enough to keep a newborn warm and clothing is not needed at this young age.

Puppies 4-8 Weeks Old

After 4 weeks, the young one is going to want to venture out. It is out of healthy curiosity that a puppy will want to begin exploring his world. It will be the owner's job to make sure that that world is as safe as possible, both inside and outdoors.

You will want to:
  • Puppy-proof the area for any objects that are small enough for the pup to mouth - This includes keys, coins, cords and shoes. Go over all rooms that the Chihuahua will have access to, placing items up high and out of reach. 
  • Slip a comfortable hoodie, shirt or sweater on your Chihuahua puppy any time that the house is below 68 degrees F (20 C).   
Puppies 8 Weeks and Older  

It is recommended to place clothes on your Chihuahua any time that it is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius).  

If you will be outside, you must take into account in the wind chill factor. You may be surprised how often it will be appropriate to put clothing on your little Chihuahua. If the outside air temperature is 55 degrees F (12.7 C), with a wind of 10 mph, the wind chill factor makes it feel like 47 degrees (8.3 C). With a 15 mile per hour wind, that same 55 degree day will feel like 40 (4.4 C).

In areas that experience wintertime, cold temperatures of a 40 degree day with a wind of 5 mph will have a chill effect that brings it to 36 F (2.2 C) which is very close to the freezing mark.

Some people see Chihuahuas shaking and mistakenly believe this is due to a high metabolism or nervousness. This is most common with young and very small Chihuahuas, but can happen to a Chi of any age and size. The idea that this is due to metabolism or nerves is often incorrect. 

The most common reason for a Chihuahua trembling and shivering is an involuntary physical reaction as the body tries to warm up.  

When the body is cold, the brain automatically sends signals to nerves all over the body that tells the muscles to tighten and loosen very rapidly, as this generates heat. 

When a Chihuahua has to do this, over and over, it can be quite exhausting and puts stress on the dog. Protecting your Chihuahua with a clothing such as a sweater, vest, hoodie or jacket will stop the shaking and endless cycle of shivering to stop.

Any Age

Whether you are taking your Chihuahua outside for his bathroom needs, bringing him outside for his daily exercise and walk or bringing him to run errands with you, it is important to protect your dog from the cold with quality clothing if the temperature is below 68 Fahrenheit (20 Celsius). 

Core body temperature can quickly drop for this tiny dog breed and it is highly recommended to offer a 2nd layer of warmth protection during these times. Clothing will be most critical for undersized Chihuahuas  (miniature teacup Chihuahuas) and seniors over the age of 8 years; though a dog of any age is prone to feeling the effects of the weather.

Additionally, a puppy or dog  with health issues and/or injury will be more vulnerable to the cold and catching the chills.
 
How Clothing Helps with House Training

Many owners write in to say that they are having problems bringing their Chihuahua outside for bathroom needs when it is cold or when it is raining outside. They write about how their dog wants to run right back inside of the house. Since most humans want to run in from the rain, it makes sense that dogs will as well.

Reluctance to be brought outside when it is freezing out or rainy is very common. Simply placing a rain coat or snow coat and booties on a Chihuahua can often resolve the issue immediately.

In rainy conditions, a slicker waterproof jacket will help to prevent that 'wet dog smell' that is common after the coat becomes soaking wet. This is due to water mixing with the natural oils on the skin, which then emits a musty type of smell that is difficult to remove without a complete bath, using canine shampoo and conditioner.

In the wintertime, clothing will allow a Chihuahua plenty of time to find just the right spot. On average, a dog takes 5 to 15 minutes to choose his spot. When the dog, the owner or both are too cold to have the patience for this, it can put a big hiccup in housebreaking.

If both owner and dog are bundled up warm and a path to the designated area is shoveled clear, then this should take care of any issues.
Comfort and Safety

Because the Chihuahua breed is such a small dog and even long coat Chi's have relatively short fur, it is common for owners to occasionally dress up their dog in dog clothes. In this instance, it is not an outfit that is needed, but rather one that is put on for fun, for a special occasion, for a Halloween costume, etc.
This is just fine, if your Chi is in agreement. Booties and sweaters are comfortable, when they are of quality and of good material (i.e. cotton for the sweaters). You will want to avoid wool or any items that have hanging elements that a dog will be tempted to chew at. 

However, be aware of how your Chi is behaving if you put dog clothes on him. Is he trying to nip at the clothes? is he scratching? Does he seem uncomfortable? If so, it is recommended to take the outfit off. Continual nipping and/or scratching at the clothes can led to irritated skin.

When in doubt about sizing, particularly for turtleneck clothing or any shirts that have a high collar, go one size up. Most Chihuahuas will wear a size extra-small, but depending on the brand or the fit, a small may be more appropriate. Hoodies should be worn loosely, while outfit with legs should have a sleeker fit.
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