Summer Fashion for Fido
It’s time for pet retailers to outfit canine customers for warmer weather and grand adventures.
Longer days and rising temperatures mean one thing: Summer and outdoor fun are on the way, and dog owners will be visiting their local pet retailer for warm-weather duds that will live up to all the action.
What’s hot in the pet market’s summertime apparel segment? Warm-weather clothing that looks as great as it functions. Here are the top five trends in summer clothing for dogs.
1. Sun Blockers
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends UV protection for dogs with shorter coats, and one way pet owners can provide this is with clothing that blocks harmful ultraviolet rays. Gold Paw Series, a clothing manufacturer based in Clackamas, Ore., offers the Sun Shield Tee, a summer-weight T-shirt with a UPF50 rating which blocks 98 percent of the sun’s UV rays, according to the company.
“We’ve been fielding requests for a summer-weight popover for years, and we finally found the right fabric,” said Rebecca Gadd, president. “It’s super comfortable indoors and out, and it’s perfect for all sorts of applications beyond sun protection, too.”
2. Outdoor Friendly
As more and more pet owners take their furry pals with them on excursions, they’re seeking apparel that’s both functional and durable. Lightweight sweaters and coats, such as those offered by Bend, Ore.-based Ruffwear, provide comfort and protection during cool early-morning hikes and evening bonfires by the river.
“We create products that we would use and need while getting outside with our dogs,” said Susan Strible, marketing director. “We want our products to perform seamlessly in the outdoor environment and contain nothing superfluous. We want the focus to be on the adventure and the relationship we have with our dogs. Our inspiration often comes from the human gear that we love and use, whether it’s a hybrid jacket or a rubber compound for dog boot soles.”
3. Cooling Aids
On warm days, dogs feel the heat, too. Cooling vests and bandannas, such as those offered by Wickenburg, Ariz.-based CoolAid, are designed to keep dogs comfortable in scorching temperatures. The CoolAid product utilizes a proprietary thermo-regulating, chemical-free fabric that instantly cools as soon as it’s wetted down, wrung dry and shaken. The horse version of this innovative product received a second place award for Best New Equine Product at SuperZoo in Las Vegas last year.
“It’s important to always keep some kind of cooling application and water when hiking, training, working or just playing in the backyard,” said Shannon Morin, co-owner of Knaughty Nets and Pets, a distributor of canine and equine gear in Millet, Alberta, Canada. “This is why we promote the easy-to-use, stylish bandannas and cooling vests, which will be available soon. They’re simple to use, and they’re 100 percent machine washable for dogs that love playing in the mud.”
4. Paw Protectors
Whether hitting the dusty trail, heading to the beach or walking to the neighborhood dog park, pets’ paws need protection from the ground’s searing heat. The AVMA, in fact, reports that pet owners should avoid walking their dogs on hot surfaces, such as asphalt, that can burn their paws. That’s where warm-weather paw protectors can help.
“People go to the beach all the time with their dogs, but there’s nowhere for them to get off the hot sand,” said Michael Friedland, owner of Pawz Dog Boots in New York. “When walking on the hot asphalt, dogs will often look for grass or another cooler surface to stand on. Pet owners have to be aware of these kinds of situations and be prepared with dog booties that protect their pet’s paws.”
Friedland’s company offers a range of reusable, disposable, 100 percent biodegradable dog boots. They’re made with all-natural rubber and are designed to go on—and stay on—without any straps or zippers.
5. Fashion Forward
Of course, style matters, too. Mimicking human clothing fashions, designers of dog clothing have incorporated the use of trend-setting colors into their creations. Tavor White, co-founder of eco-friendly clothing maker Chews Happiness in Boulder, Colo., said the hot hues this year center on warmth, comfort and joy.
“At the New York Now show last year, the theme from human clothing designers was that, in these uncertain times, people want colors that are warm, that are soothing and that bring joy,” he said. “Our golds and yellows are very warm, our pinks bring joy, and our purples are soothing. There’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of division in the country, and I think that translates into what people wear and what they want their dogs to wear.”
Customers also want clothing made with earth-friendly materials, noted Suzanne Hein, owner of LexiDog, which has stores in Portland, Ore.
“In dog clothing, fabrics that are being used are a lot more eco-friendly in the way that they’re processed, with the dyes and materials that are used,” she said. “I do definitely see people, especially here in Portland, who are very eco-conscious. If it’s a couple dollars more, no big deal. They’ll definitely buy something that’s made a little more responsibly.”