5 things to consider before dressing up your pet

A dog wearing a woolly jumper turning its head to look back whilst out on a walk

Pooches in party outfits and cats in cute costumes are all the rage on social media.

But before you buy an item of feline fancy dress that you think is the cat’s pyjamas, is it really a good idea to dress up your dog or cat?

What starts out as a bit of fun for you can lead to distress for your pet.

If it’s injured as it tries to free itself from restrictive clothing, it could even mean a trip to your vet with your tail between your legs, and a claim on your pet's insurance policy. 

The PDSA animal charity advises caution over costumes. Read on for the top 5 questions to ask yourself before you try to pose your pup in a cute outfit.

  1. Does it benefit my pet?

Dogs and cats are beautiful just as they are. That’s true whether you’ve got a gorgeous Golden Retriever, a stunning Siamese, or just an adorably scruffy Terrier. But there are times when they need some clothing.

Hi-vis jackets will help your pooch be seen and safe when walking along the streets, particularly at night.

Warm and waterproof jackets will protect thin-haired dogs from the winter weather.

And post-surgery, your poorly pooch or kitty may need a well-fitted surgical vest to stop them biting or scratching stitches, or special boots to protect their paws while they recover.

These are examples of clothing that benefit pets – and even then, they might well object to being dressed in them! But what if you want to put them in clothes just for fun – that is, your fun?

A dog in a tartan coat whilst out on a walk on a frosty cold morning

  1. Are they comfortable?

Above all, you need to ask yourself: does this costume allow my pet to move freely?

Your pet must be able to walk, jump, run, groom itself, eat, go to the toilet and lie down in its costume.

Fancy dress that’s too tight will distress your animal, while if it’s too loose, your pet might get tangled in it and even choke.

Your puppy or kitty comes ready kitted out in its own clothing, in the form of fur. Adding an extra layer can cause your pet to overheat, particularly if it’s a long-haired animal.

You may think the idea of a kitten in mittens is cute, but covering its paws will hamper it hugely, preventing its normal crazy antics.

You might get away with a cat in a hat just long enough to take a photo – but don’t expect it to look too happy!

  1. Is my pet stressed?

If your pet’s uncomfortable, it probably won’t suffer in silence. But can you read the warning signs?

Stressed cats might groom themselves excessively, or make more noise than usual. Dogs might display stress by licking their lips, yawning or panting.

Of course, there are obvious signs, too.

If your pet is pawing or biting at its clothing, trying to jump out of its costume, whining, growling, or running away from you, then your dressing-up games have gone too far.

Time to free your pup or kitty of its fancy dress and give it some TLC.

A stressed pet is also one that’s likely to bolt out of your home, perhaps even into traffic, or climb up high then fall while attempting to untangle itself.

Fortunately, if you’ve got pet cover in place, your pet is covered for vets’ fees up to a certain amount, though you’ll still have to pay the excess yourself.

A white cat wearing a red jumper laying on the doorstep to a house

  1. Can my pet still communicate?

Just because your pet can’t talk, doesn’t mean it can’t communicate.

Dogs and cats have their own body language, which we humans can’t always interpret – but other members of their species can.

If you dress up your dog, other dogs may not be able to read that body language properly. They might misinterpret those essential canine signals – and could even act aggressively towards your poor pooch.

If your dog is already hot and bothered by its costume, that’s a recipe for fights and possible injuries.

Your vet won’t be impressed, though fortunately if you’ve got insurance for your pet, you could be covered for the cost of patching your animal back up, with certain conditions depending on the policy you’ve chosen.

  1. Is it respectful?

It may seem strange to talk about respect when your dog enjoys rolling in who-knows-what and your cat just wants you to tickle its tummy. But you must allow your pets some dignity and understanding.

That means accepting them for what they are. They’re not humans, who enjoy trying out the latest fashions or dressing up for a laugh. And they’re definitely not toys.  

So consider your feline’s feelings. They may not feel embarrassment in the same way that humans do, but they are sensitive. They can guess when you’re putting your own fun above their comfort.

Good pet ownership is about establishing a bond of trust. You don’t want to break that for one photo opportunity, however many ‘likes’ you’ll get.

Instead, love your Labrador for its friendly nature and it sleek looks. Enjoy the splendid colours of your Tortoiseshell’s natural coat without trying to force it into a catsuit.

It really is best to limit your pet costumes to a fancy collar at the most.

And if you are desperate to post some funny social media snaps, then there’s some great free photo editing software out there where you can add digital hats, glasses and more till your heart’s content.

A sad looking dog wearing a pink knitted jumper laying on a rug on the floor

Get a quote from Purely Pets

At Purely Pets, we think your pooches and kitties are wonderful just as they are. To keep them in tip-top condition, we offer award-winning pet insurance to suit your animal and your budget.

There are 15 levels of lifetime cover. Depending on the policy you choose, vets’ fees between £1,000 and £15,000 are covered, with excesses from just £60.

Loss by theft or straying is included as standard, as is advertising and reward to help you trace your animal. Dogs are also covered with third party liability insurance. 

Contact our specialist team today to keep your pet looking lovely and feeling healthy and happy.

Get a quote for pet insurance today.

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