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Gear Guy

Where can we buy a "doggie wetsuit"?

We recently acquired a German shorthaired pointer who loves to swim in the ocean—not just play around in the surf, but really get out there and swim past the waves. Trouble is that with her short hair, she is freezing cold before she's tired out. We'd like to purchase a "doggie wetsuit," so to speak. Since we live in the self-proclaimed surf capital of the world, it seems a logical idea. Should we purchase one of those hunting-dog neoprene vests? Or are we just acting like overly-protective, wussy Californian dog owners? Thanks for not laughing too hard. Deb Encinitas, California

A: Why would I laugh? People do goofier things than THAT with their dogs, and of course dogs get cold, too. Pointers don't have much of a coat to begin with, so it makes perfect sense to think of some way to keep her warmer.

Cabela's sells those hunting-dog vests you mention. They're available in 3mm or 5mm thickness (get the 5mm—it's warmer) and can be purchased with or without flotation panels on the side (consider getting the panels). It'll cost $25 to $40, depending on size and model. Your dog will be stuck with that macho camo pattern, but likely will be much warmer.

Beyond that, it would be prudent to ensure that the dog doesn't spend all that much time in the water. Pointers are lean and apt to get cold very quickly even with a wetsuit. And that can pose the real risk of hypothermia, which might incapacitate your dog at a bad time. So keep an eye on your dog, and give her regular breaks out of the water—even if it means you have to get out, too—to towel her dry. You might also pack some high-energy dog treats, as she's burning a zillion calories between keeping warm and paddling.

Arf! Send us a picture of you surfer dog!

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