We’ve all seen those adorable photos and videos of pets in hot dog costumes, furry boas, or fun, brightly colored sunglasses. While cute, we need to stop and ask ourselves if the animal wearing the clothing item is having a good time. Are they showing signs of discomfort or irritation? Do they enjoy wearing their new sweater?
Today, we’re going over things you should consider before putting your pet into a costume or clothing item in celebration of National Dress Up Your Pet Day!
Are Clothes on Animals Cute or Cruel?
It depends heavily on the animal in question.
Some animals may enjoy wearing a cute dog sweater and may even need one in colder weather. Dogs with short hair or older animals may need the extra warmth from a sweater, while dogs with thick coats, like Huskies, may be too warm in a sweater. If you’re placing your pet in a sweater, consider whether they need the extra warmth first.
The same goes for dog booties, which are great for protecting your pet’s paws from sharp ice, ice-melting chemicals, and cold weather conditions. Dog booties are practical for many dogs in cold, icy climates and are not cruel as they are actively protecting your dog’s paws from the elements. (1)
If you’re looking to dress your pet in something fun, like a Halloween costume or festive outfit, consider your pet’s temperament first. If they’re reserved, they may dislike the reactions and laughs their outfit receives from others.
Use your judgment and watch for any signs of discomfort. Immediately take the costume off if you believe they are uncomfortable in their new look.
Is Your Pet Comfortable?
Above all else, your pet needs to be comfortable and safe in whatever they are wearing.
Skip costumes with the following safety hazards:
- Any choking hazards - look for small, dangly bits that your pet may rip off and swallow.
- Keep your pet’s head free and avoid elastic straps that go around their head or neck. An elastic strap can restrict your pet’s breathing and is especially dangerous to brachycephalic dogs and cats.
- Clothing that restricts their mobility. If your pet cannot run, move, bark, meow, or see clearly while wearing their outfit, opt for a different outfit. (2)
Signs that your pet is uncomfortable wearing their new clothing:
- A tucked tail
- Avoiding eye contact
- Hunched posture
- Attempts to remove their outfit or parts of it
- Folded down ears
- Change in personality, such as suddenly not being interested in playing or being around others.
See our piece on pet happiness here for more signs that your pet is feeling happy.
Ways to Make Costumes and Clothing Fun for Your Pet
Once you’ve found a costume that your pet can safely wear, it’s important to make the experience of wearing it fun for your pet.
Allow your pet to smell the costume and give them positive feedback, such as treats and praise when they are checking their costume out so that they develop a positive association with the clothing item.
While placing the clothing or costume on your pet, give them praise in a happy, upbeat tone and immediately reinforce them wearing the costume with a treat, toy, or food after the costume is secured. If your pet does seem uncomfortable in their costume, adjust the costume, or remove the part that is uncomfortable if possible. Do not get upset or frustrated at them as this will cause them to dislike their new outfit more.
If they are uncomfortable in their new outfit, try putting them in something simpler like a bandana or festive collar or harness. They’ll still look adorable and, most importantly, they’ll have more fun!
Our pet’s happiness should always be our top priority, and nothing affects our pet’s happiness more than their health. A happy pet is a healthy pet!
Regular veterinary care is the best way for you to help your pet live their happiest and healthiest life. Unfortunately, veterinary care can quickly become expensive. That’s where pet insurance comes in. Here at SPOT we want to help you take the best care of your pet, so we help pay your pet’s eligible medical expenses. Get your quote in less than 30 seconds today.