Fall days mean crisp air, juicy apples and football—both college and professional. So whether you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan or partial to the Big Blue Wrecking Crew (yup, we’re talking about the New York Giants), you may want to include your dog in the fun. Dressing your pooch in dog jerseys that display your chosen team can result in some adorable shots for your social media feed, and can be a fun way to show team spirit.
But before you pull that shirt over your animal’s head, take a few minutes to think about safety. “With any pet apparel, it’s important to make sure he can walk comfortably in the outfit and that there’s no pinching or chafing,” explains Dr. Stephanie Liff, DVM, a veterinarian and owner of Pure Paws Animal Clinic in New York City.
As you whip up the guacamole and shop for some adorable animal clothing, check out these safety tips to get your pup in the game with some new NFL dog gear.
Check the Fit
Dog jerseys that are too tight or hang loosely and drag on the floor aren’t ideal for your pup. Before you dress your fur baby in pet apparel, consider how it looks on him and whether he seems comfortable. “In general, you should be able to fit two fingers under any garment around the neck and body,” points out Dr. Liff.
And if you’re watching the game at a friend’s house, consider toting your doggie in the Sherpa Delta Pet Carrier, or using an NFL team leash so your pup can stride with pride. Also, make sure your dog’s vision isn’t compromised by any portion of the dog costume that fits over his head or ears.
Introduce Gear Slowly
Give your pup time to get used to the dog clothing you want him to wear by introducing it in stages. Try putting on the jersey (when your animal is in a good mood) for a few minutes at a time. See how he reacts and whether he can tolerate the fit and fabric. If all goes well, lengthen the time he’s wearing it each day.
Don’t forget to reward your dog for good behavior while wearing his football gear. You might even throw around the Pets First Denver Broncos Football Dog Toy during halftime.
If your pet doesn’t seem comfortable in dog jerseys, then do not fret! You can still get them a Pets First NFL dog collar that will clearly display which team you are supporting. There are even Pets First collars that have built-in bandanas for extra flair.
Watch For Loose Parts
Be sure to inspect pet gear before you dress your pup. “Check to see that there are no removable pieces which could be a choking hazard for your dog,” warns Dr. Liff. And if you are dressing up your cat, watch out for any strings or ribbons. Cats think these parts are fun to play with, but it can be problematic if they are swallowed. Before putting the item on, Dr. Liff advises cutting them short.
Read the Labels
When it comes to fitting NFL dog gear, size matters, but so does the type of breed. Check the instructions, so you know which dog type is best suited for the item you’re considering.
Stay Close By
It’s important to monitor your dog when he’s wearing any sort of pet costumes, because he might need a break at some point. If you notice he’s starting to scratch at his shirt or he’s crying or whining, take it off.
Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York City writer/editor and the mom of two teenage girls. She’s also the devoted owner of a rescue pup named Django, a temperamental Shepherd mix. Geddes has worked for Food & Wine, Parenting, Seventeen and Airbnb magazines and creates content for dozens of sites, including Care, Fisher-Price, the National Sleep Foundation and Realtor.