All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go – Is It Okay To Dress Up My Pet?

Cat dressed up in bunny ears

When you welcome a pet into your home, they become part of the family; they have their own personalities and we like spending time with them and having fun. We’ve all seen pictures and videos on social media of cats and dogs in silly costumes and accessories, particularly around Christmas and Halloween, and we even have a Dress Up Your Pet Day, with its own hashtag, but is it really ok to dress up your pet? Are they enjoying it as much as you are?

Why Dress Up Your Pet?

  • When it’s cold – Dogs may come with their very own built-in fur coat, but some breeds, whippets, for example, have very thin fur and not much body fat, so a coat or jumper can make them feel more comfortable. The same goes for older dogs who are less active and more likely to feel the cold.
  • Security – Nervous dogs might benefit from an anxiety vest as they reduce anxiety by applying gentle pressure to various parts of their body, almost like a hug. It’s a little bit like swaddling a newborn baby.
  • Medical reasons – Sometimes after surgery your pet may need a protective layer to stop them licking the wound, or they may need more protection if they have a skin condition.
  • For safety reasons – Working dogs might need a hi-vis jacket to make them more visible, or you might just want your dog to wear something bright when you’re out for an evening walk in the winter.
  • For a photo op, or a special occasion – Some pets love the attention, and your furry friend dressed up in a little Santa hat can look cute in your Christmas photos.
dog dressed up in a blue coat in a field

Things To Consider Before You Dress Up Your Pet

  • Is it too restrictive? Clothing can be uncomfortable even for humans who are used to it, so it’s important to make sure your pet can still move around properly. Can they still walk around? Play? Groom themselves? Could they get caught on something that could be a choking hazard? Will it make them too hot?
  • Can they still communicate? Communication is really important for animals and as our four-legged friends can’t speak to us, they rely on body language. This is why it’s important that any clothing they wear still lets them communicate, both with us and other animals.
  • Is it interfering with their senses? Cats in particular rely on their senses a lot, so anything that affects their hearing/vision/whiskers will confuse them’ Any cat owner knows how annoyed cats can get if we dare to stroke them; they immediately wash themselves, as they like their own scent!
  • Are they showing signs of stress? It’s important to look out for different behaviour that might indicate your pet is distressed; with cats this could be excessive grooming and increased aggression, while dogs may lick their lips more, or pant and yawn a lot.
  • Are you doing it for the right reasons?  Ask yourself why you want to dress up your pet; is it for your pet’s wellbeing or just for likes? Animals have feelings too, and they’re not just our ‘property’, so deserve respect. There are plenty of other ways to bond, and play with your pet; for example, getting them a new toy, or teaching them a new trick
small dog dressed up in a Christmas jumper sitting on a rug.

How To Do It So You’re Both Happy

  • Take it slowly – introduce clothing gradually and don’t rush it, and, as always, have plenty of treats on hand.
  • Can’t stand the heat – make sure your pet isn’t overheating, particularly in the summer, as clothing can affect how they control their body temperature.
  • Read the signs – signs that your pet is uncomfortable or anxious can be very subtle, so make sure you familiarise yourself with your pet’s body language when they’re happy.
  • Safety first – make sure they can’t hurt themselves, or get trapped, and check the material isn’t too rough or could irritate their skin.
  • Never leave them alone!

Pet owners who choose to dress up their pets do so because they want to have fun with them, and there are lots of different options out there; from sparkly collars and brightly patterned jumpers, to full on fancy dress costumes. Our pets are family members which means we often assign human traits to them, but it’s always important to check if our furry friends can tolerate the same things as the human body; after all, their happiness is our priority.

As a pet owner you want the best for your pet, and the reassurance of knowing that your furry friend is protected and safe and this is where pet insurance comes in. You can choose which level of cover suits you, and tailor it to fit your needs and budget, giving you the freedom to enjoy your pet, whether they’re in their Sunday best or their birthday suit.

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