While it may be tempting to put clothes or outfits on your pet, are you sure he’ll enjoy it? Putting clothes on pets can result in discomfort, stress and even injury. Experts weigh in on what you need to know before dressing up your pet. They’re great the way nature has made them, and somehow even better when we dress them in human-like clothes. Whether it’s a cozy holiday sweater or just a fun everyday look, putting clothes on our pets is one of the great joys in life for us, anyway. But how do the pets feel about playing dress up? Some animals love it, some hate it, and some seem completely unfazed by, well, everything in life, but that includes being dressed up. Here’s what we know about how pets react to wearing all the adorable outfits you buy them.
· A pet that loves getting dressed up will start to wig out if the outfit is too tight. You know how it feels when you squeeze into jeans that don’t quite fit anymore and you’re uncomfortable all day. That’s why they go full spaz in tight clothes.
· This is another one that might seem obvious, but that you have to be mindful of if your pet seems especially averse to wearing clothes. Poor fit or wild accessories can get in the way of your pet’s ability to see, hear, or move, which is enough to freak anyone or anything out.
· Another reason some pets dig dress-up is attention. You and everyone in the house shower them with even more attention than usual when they’re getting their costume on. Pets thrive on human attention. For pets who have come to associate getting dressed up with getting the attention, they crave getting dressed up becomes a happy time.
· There’s a difference between clothing a pet for their comfort and clothing a pet for fashion purposes. Make sure our d pets are comfortable, safe and not put under unnecessary stress. This sentiment applies, especially to cats.
· Pet costumes and clothing prohibits self-grooming. Costumes are also dangerous for pets to wear as the elastic or binding that holds the costume on can cut off circulation and result in damage to, or possible loss, of a limb or tail. If you’ve trained your pet to tolerate a collar and you want to “dress them up” for the holidays, a breakaway collar with a seasonal theme is appropriate. Dogs aren’t overly fond of dressing up, either.
· While we think it’s adorable to dress up our dogs, for the most part, dogs don’t agree with this. Animals must be introduced slowly to wearing clothes and that experience is a positive one for them. It is tempting to put a costume on the pet and call it a day, but in most instances, this results in the animal being uncomfortable and scared.
· Animals are individuals and they have different needs. For example, pets with short hair or those that are very thin or geriatric pets may require a sweater or coat in the winter for additional warmth. In wintry weather, it is important to consider taking care of your dog’s feet. Boots may be needed to protect paw pads from ice and ice-melting salt. Both can cause pain and damage to paw pads. Only hairless cats need to be wrapped up in warm bedding or loose knit clothing when they go out in freezing weather.
· If you are transporting an elderly or sick pet in cold weather, it’s a very good idea to loosely wrap the cat in warm towels or bedding or put warm bedding in the cat carrier before you take the cat outside. Older and sick pets tend to have trouble keeping warm and the loose wrap doesn’t hinder the fur’s insulation properties.
· If your pet continues doing all the things they’d normally do without clothes while wearing clothes, they’re probably tolerant of what they are wearing. They should still be able to run, play, roll around, jump and do all normal activities with ease.
· Signs such as scratching, biting, or rubbing at the clothes may indicate they need to come off. Some animals may not know what to do and simply freeze when clothes are put on, which likely indicates they’re not having a good time. If your pet is uncomfortable in their clothing, learn to read their behavior.
· Experts stress the importance of supervising your pet while he’s wearing clothing, especially if it’s a new experience for him. When putting clothing on pets, it’s vital to make sure they do not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, bark or meow. Ill-fitted outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to severe injury. Also, check for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that may present a choking hazard.
· A jacket for pets should have an area for a leash attachment or an opening for a collar or harness rings. It should also be easy to put on and take off without startling or hurting your pet.
· Be mindful of the materials, as some synthetics can be flammable. As long as the material is soft and washable, a specific type of material may not impact whether or not the animal wears. However, while rare, some animals may have skin sensitivity or skin reactions to certain materials or allergens associated with clothing.
· When in doubt, ask your veterinarian if clothing is appropriate for your pet. Pet costumes and clothing can be fun for people, but it’s essential to put the animal’s best interests first.