Is it ok to dress up my pet?

We’ve all seen those funny videos and pictures of dogs and cats (and other animals too!) wearing silly costumes or accessories. They probably made you chuckle and maybe you’ve been thinking about dressing up your pet as well. But is it really a good idea?

Is it helping your pet or is it more for your enjoyment?

There are lots of pet clothes available to buy which are designed to make your pet look cute or funny. These outfits might cause a stir on social media but they can make your pet feel stressed or uncomfortable. There are some really important things to think about first, which owners sometimes don’t realise when they want to buy funny outfits:

  • Can they move properly? Clothes can be quite restrictive. They can get in the way when your pet tries to do normal things like walking, going to the toilet or grooming themselves. They might make your pet itchy when they’re resting. They can also stop your pet from controlling their body temperature properly, so they could get too hot. Clothes could even choke your pet if they get tangled up or caught on something.
  • Is your pet stressed? Wearing clothes doesn’t come naturally to pets and it can cause them stress, especially cats. Stressed cats might groom themselves a lot, be aggressive towards you or make more noise than usual. Dogs might show they’re stressed by licking their lips, yawning or panting.
  • Can they still communicate? Communication is very important for dogs. If your dog is dressed up, other dogs might struggle to read their body language properly. This could make them act aggressively towards your dog as they could find it hard to understand each other’s body language. If your dog is already stressed from being dressed up, then they might act differently to usual around other dogs.
  • Is it respectful? This may seem an odd question to ask! However, as owners we love and protect our pets, and we wouldn’t want to see them come to harm of any kind. Dressing up a pet to be made fun of or laughed at isn’t necessarily kind or respectful.

When are clothes useful for pets?

Some pet clothes are really useful and help keep your pet warm, comfortable or safe:

  • Winter coats or boots. A well-fitted coat on a cold winter’s day can help keep dogs with missing or very thin fur stay warm. In a small minority of dogs, sometimes special boots can protect their paws, especially if they often get to cuts and scrapes on their pads or are recovering from an injury to their paws.
  • Surgical vests and therapy tops. If your pet has just had an operation your vet might recommend dressing them in a surgical vest to stop them licking their stiches. It is important that these fit well and are not too baggy because a large vest can get tangled and stop them moving properly or slow down their recovery.
  • Hi-Vis jackets. Working animals might wear a high visibility jacket to help keep them safe on busy roads or in dangerous situations. These are also useful when taking dogs on winter walkies.

If your pet is comfortable and happy wearing a coat or a surgical vest there’s no reason to avoid these items of pet clothing - they could actually help your pet by keeping them safe or comfortable!

Our advice about dressing up pets

We think pets are adorable just as they are, so our advice is simple – if the clothes aren’t designed to keep them warm or safe, then it’s best to avoid dressing up your pet. They’ll probably prefer to stay as nature intended!

Pet care in winter months

As the temperatures drop, it’s really important to make sure all pets stay warm and cosy - read our vet's top tips on how

Read more

The benefits of owning a pet

Did you know that lots of scientific studies have also shown that owning a pet can be good for your physical and mental health?

Read more

Pet-friendly gardens

Spring is finally here! It's the perfect time to spruce up your garden, ready to enjoy the warmer weather. But have you thought about how to make it safe and fun for your pets?

Read more