The American Association Of Pet Products reports that despite the recession consumers spent well over 47 million dollars in clothing and accessories for their pets for 2010. That represents at least 16% of pet owners bought some pet apparel. Considering there are pets on 71 million US households this is a very surprising statistic.
I was asked by BBC Mundo if I thought that dressing your pet was a bad medical decision and I responded that dressing up is fun for everyone, but may not be very fun for our pets. If your pet tolerates a costume or clothing accessories, there are some things to keep in mind.
Your pet must be comfortable at all times. Avoid any costumes that use rubber bands or anything that might constrict circulation or breathing. I have seen many chubby pets develop edema because the end sleeves of their dresses were too tight. Luckily this condition reverses after removing the clothing article but if enough time passes the area could develop gangrene.
If your pet appears uncomfortable in any way, allow him to dress up in his “birthday suit”. Trying to dress an unwilling pet may result in the pet developing a trauma or behavioral change. Accept that some dogs like to be dressed up and some will hate it.
Costumes on pets can be scary to other pets! Masks, large hats, and other costume accessories can confuse pets and may even trigger territorial instincts. It is not unusual for pets to act protective or be fearful of people or other pets in costumes, even if they normally are very social.
Finally, consider if dressing your pet is safe for the current weather. Pets have a thick coat and do not sweat like us. They cool down by panting and laying in cool areas. Some clothing may impede cooling down and cause a heat stroke.
Likewise, avoid costumes with toxic paints or dyes. Many people like the artsy one of a kind outfits but many are meant to be pretty without concern for safety or long term wear and tear. Avoid hand painted items and make sure the materials are non flammable!
Dressing your pet can be a positive bonding ritual but you really need to be aware of safety concerns and also of your pet’s willingness to play dress up.