Is it Okay to Dress up my Pet?

Photos and videos of cute pets are everywhere right now, with many wearing some absolutely adorable outfits! You’ve probably come across dogs wearing clothing while out on a walk, black cats in Halloween pet costumes and much more. But is it actually okay to dress up pets in clothing, or could it be causing more harm than good?

Is it okay to dress up my pet - Yorkshire Terrier in pink tutu.

Why might you dress your pet?

There are many reasons that you might want to dress your pet up, some of which may be essential, others not so much. For example, small dogs with thin hair, such as Italian Greyhounds, or hairless cats like a Sphynx, can become very cold during wintery conditions. Many working dogs might also need to keep warm outside or wear high-vis for safety reasons.

Some anxious pets can actually benefit from wearing an ‘anxiety shirt’. These are designed to provide pressure either evenly or to targeted areas of the animal’s body, effectively giving them a permanent hug. Your vet might recommend putting your furry friend in post-surgery pet clothing if they’ve just had an operation or to prevent infection. People also sometimes just want their dogs to look cute, feel more like one of the family, or be dressed up for an occasion!

Below are some things to consider.

Dressing pets up can be restrictive

Dogs and cats are used to being free to move as they please. They absolutely love to be able to run, jump and roll around. Clothing and pet costumes can sometimes restrict this movement, and this might leave them feeling confused, frightened or frustrated. It could also mean they can no longer groom themselves, which is an essential action in keeping themselves clean and calm.

Ensure good communication

As much as we might like them to, our furry friends can’t speak to us! They do, however, use body language in order to communicate with their humans, as well as with other animals. Cats and dogs use their tails, ears, fur and more in order to tell us how they’re feeling. It’s therefore important to make sure any clothing they wear enables them to continue doing this. If you notice that they’re uncomfortable at all in pet clothing, you might be better off leaving them as nature intended!

Is it okay to dress up my pet - Sphynx cat wears stripey jumper

Potential hazards

Pay close attention to which pet clothing you use, as some could potentially be dangerous to their wellbeing. Anything worn around the neck could be a choking hazard if it’s either the wrong size or worn incorrectly. There’s also the possibility that dogs and cats could decide to chow down on their clothing, and any protruding parts could potentially cause harm when ingested.

Are the materials suitable?

Choose the materials of any pet clothing you buy carefully. Wool might be warm, but it can be itchy and rub against any exposed skin. Cotton is breathable but can take a long time to dry out if it becomes wet. Just as in humans, our pets can also suffer from sensitive skin, meaning that they might find certain fabrics unsuitable or just plain uncomfortable!

Size matters

We all know how annoying it can be wearing clothes that don’t fit! It can also be irritating to your pet. Clothing for cats and dogs that’s too tight can limit their freedom to move and be a cause of discomfort. Too large, however, and they might be able to try and escape their clothes, leading them either to become entangled, or to chew on fabric, potentially causing upset.

Slowly does it

If you want to dress your pet in clothing, ensure you get them used to it gradually. At first, accustom them to the item by letting them sniff it, as well as leaving it lying around the house. After this, you might begin resting it on their back for a few minutes. Once they’re used to having it around, you can then try putting it on. If your pet seems at all distressed, remove the clothing immediately.

Is it okay to dress up my pet - dog wearing patterned jumper

Who is it for?

Before deciding to dress your pet in clothing, take a moment to ask yourself why you want to. Is it for your own enjoyment or your pet’s wellbeing? If clothing your pet is solely for yourself, perhaps you might want to consider whether it’s worth undertaking at all. While your dog or cat can take well to being dressed in clothes, they might not enjoy the experience and it can cause them a certain amount of anxiety and unwanted attention.

At the end of the day, many pets do wear clothes either frequently or on the odd occasion, and it can be a fun bonding experience for the two of you! However, it doesn’t work for every cat or dog, and can result in distress. The important thing to remember is that if you do dress your furry friend up in clothing or a pet costume, make sure that you do so responsibly and with the best interests of your pet in mind.

As a proud pet owner, you might also wish to protect them should anything untoward occur, and pet insurance could help to do this. At The Insurance Emporium, we offer a range of Cat Insurance and Dog Insurance policies, with cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000*, as well as up to 30% discount^ available! Head to our website to find out more!

* Vet’s Fees up to £8,000 available on lunar monthly lifetime policies only.

^ The 30% discount is made up of 20% Introductory Discount plus 10% Multi-pet Discount (if appropriate). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies or one premium payment on annual policies.    

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