The ins and outs of… doggie diapers


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/12/2021 (236 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I’ve written many columns about the troubles of sizing apparel for dogs. Unlike people, who are generally the same shape and layout, but vary in size, dogs are all over the map in shape and size, making finding things that fit a real challenge.  

Recently, I’ve found a new piece of apparel that is challenging to size — the doggie diaper.  

These are needed for a variety of issues, from spotting during heat to behavioural issues with territory marking, to “doggie Depends” for incontinence.  

Photo by Jeff McFarlane Columnist Jeff McFarlane’s dog, Rey, is wearing a doggie diaper as she goes through her first heat before being spayed.

These garments are not as variable as, say, coats or boots, as the area they cover is fairly consistent in its shape, but we are still dealing with animals which range from five to 200 pounds, so finding the appropriate size is not always a simple task. Many people can get it right on the first try, as most garments have a weight-dependent size range and more often than not, they do fit.

Diapers for your dog come in packages of disposable items and also in reusable garments. Reusable ones rely mainly on inserting feminine hygiene pads into the appropriate area to catch output. Some other reusables have built-in absorption and the whole garment can be washed after each use, like a good old cloth diaper.  

Disposables have the advantage of being simple to use and inexpensive to purchase if you only need them for a short while. If you need them for a longer term, reusables might be a better option.

The other advantage of reusables is that they are made of heavier cloth and have more secure Velcro tabs. So, while they may be almost identical in shape and size, they may stay on a lot better.  
Keeping a diaper on a dog is another story.  We all know most dogs are flexible enough to lick back there, so they will also try to remove a garment back there. Some dogs are obedient enough to take the command to leave it alone (although, if you have one of those dogs, I envy you).  

Most dogs will need specific training to leave these garments alone, or you may have to add additional deterrents. Another layer of clothes, sometimes a T-shirt put on backwards and tied at the dog’s ‘waist’, or a recovery garment (which looks like a hospital gown and ties at the back) can prevent them from getting at the diaper. There are also taste deterrents, such as bitter apple, which can stop a dog from removing its diaper.

We’re going though this now, with Rey in her first heat, because we are waiting to spay her until well after she has finished growing. New research recommends either a gonad-sparing sterilization (a partial spay or a vasectomy) to allow a dog to mature fully with all its systems, plus we are seeing reports about issues with pets that are spayed or neutered before reaching maturity and those left intact.  

Pet clothing is mostly functional, although there are some things with an undeniable cuteness factor. Finding ways to keep these clothes on our pets can be a challenge but with a little work, we can make it happen.

Jeff McFarlane

Jeff McFarlane
Pets Are People, Too

Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas or visit

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