One of my coworkers has four Boston Terriers. One will have an indoor accident. The other three dogs, trying to be helpful, will mark over the spot. As you can imagine, that can be a lot of urine and a lot of housecleaning.
Additionally, we run a Pet Therapy program at the shelter, taking dogs to visit local nursing homes. Sometimes we’ll have a great dog with the right disposition, but we can’t guarantee that it won’t mark or use the bathroom indoors, making it a canis non-grata.
It was with those thoughts that I set out to make a dog belly band. Please note that a belly band is not a substitute for taking your dog outdoors as needed, and a dog should never be left wearing a wet belly band for any amount of time (see: urine scalding). But if you have occasional need, here’s how you can put one together for yourself.
You’ll need a measuring tape, scissors, sewing machine and polyester/all purpose thread, fleece material, cotton material, Warm and Natural cotton batting and velcro tabs. You may also want PUL fabric (polyurethane laminate) if you have a large dog or a dog with a large, full bladder. I purchased all items at JoAnn Fabric. The PUL and velcro tabs are in a separate area from the regular material. Ask a sales associate for the location of the baby diaper-making supplies. You can also buy everything on Amazon online.
Measure your dog around the waist, and inch or so in front of the dog’s urine dispenser, aka dog junk. Now, all seam allowances are 1/4 inch for this pattern. And you need to have an overlap where the velcro can close. I added 3 inches to the total measurement of the dog in question. The width is 4 1/4 inches. I made a template to work from out of thin interfacing, but paper would work fine too. Wrap your template around the dog in question to ensure it is going to fit appropriately (measure twice, cut once!).
Now it’s time to cut the fabric. The fleece and cotton material should be cut to your dog’s measurements, plus three inches, by 4 1/4 inches wide. You can eyeball the Warm and Natural to the middle of the fleece, as seen above, but double it over. You want it to be quite absorbent. I don’t put the PUL in the belly bands for the smaller dogs as they don’t seem to soak through. However, if you have a larger dog, or a dog that completely evacuates a full bladder due to age-related urinary incontinence, you can cut and use the PUL to stop any urine soaking through the top cotton material. The PUL is not sewn in, but slid in between the layers, so you’ll want to cut it approximately 3/4 inch more narrow all the way around compared to your fleece and cotton material. Also, you shouldn’t put PUL in the dryer as it may melt.
Pin your Warm and Natural to the inside of the fleece. Sew it in with a 1/4 inch seam. If you wanted, you could get all fancy and do some quilting on it, too. Your choice.
Next, you’re going to sew your velcro tabs to the right side of the fabric…one on the fleece, one on the cotton. I had to then put them back-to-back to make sure once I sewed it up, it was going to close appropriately. Make sure you have both sides of the velcro, and not two similar pieces that won’t stick together. I used my seam ripper a lot during this project due to lack of attention on my part.
Pin the right sides together, and sew around 3 of the sides. Leave one of the short sides open to turn it and insert the PUL, if you plan on doing that.
Sew, and turn your belly band right-side out. If you don’t have a pair of chopsticks to help with the corners, you really need to pick up a pair next time you go to the Chinese buffet. Now is the time to insert the PUL if you’re going to use it. Plan on swearing a bit, because it’s not easy to fit in there or get it all the way down. They say you’re not supposed to sew it because each individual piercing from the needle can wick fluid. Who knows.
Now you’re going to stitch closed that top seam. If you feel confident in the security of your blind stitch by hand, use that. However, it’s right next to a velcro piece that’s going to take some use. I ran it right through the machine. Then you can stitch all around the edges for a nice, neat look if you like. Or not. I won’t judge you.
Modeled by Teddy:
photo courtesy of Katie Mullen
I do find it somewhat odd that I spend more time sewing dog items (including every ripped dog bed at work) than I do cat items, and I do not have a dog. Cats seem to be so much more…reasonable.
Photo by Carrie Bammer
Like this? More pet-related crafts here:
Dog Treat/Bait Bags
Wet-felted Cat Balls
Cat Xmas Toys