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Is that dress causing stress?

10th August 2020


Many pet owners love dressing up their pets for different occasions, but how does your pet feel about it?

When you’ve found a cute outfit for your dog, cat, horse, or other animal, it’s tempting to put it on them for the inevitable social media fame to follow. People love seeing pets dressed up in outfits and costumes, and there is no shortage of retail shops that stock them.

However, before you pick out the perfect poncho for your pooch or tutu for your tarantula, it’s worth factoring in their comfort level. Will your pet appreciate being poked and prodded into their new attire?

Even if you’re only putting a costume on your pet for a photo before removing it, it’s paramount that you focus on the signs of your pet being uncomfortable or distressed. Take note of their body movements. Are they tensing up and refusing to move? Are they trying to shake the costume off? Is their tail between their legs?

Dogs, in particular, use their body to communicate, and when they’re prevented from doing this they can get frightened. Read the signs, and if they don’t align with a happy dog, then remove the costume immediately. The same rule applies to cats and other critters. If they are not happy, then it’s kinder to cancel the photoshoot and let them be comfortable in the skin they’re in.


There are going to be times when dressing up your pet is actually beneficial for them. Hairless dogs and cats, for example, can benefit from layers of protection from the sun and cold weather. Dogs with minimal body hair, such as greyhounds, may also be warmer with a dog jacket. Breathable, waterproof jackets for horses are also necessary in colder climates. Older pets who suffer from joint stiffness and arthritis may also find relief from a suitable jacket.


If clothing is important for their warmth and comfort, then make sure you choose the right apparel for their needs. Pay attention to the type of material. Anything itchy can be a significant source of irritation for any pet, and anything too warm or lacking breathability can cause them to overheat. Anything your pet can chew, such as pom-poms or buttons, should be removed in advance to avoid choking.

Clothing should just cover their body, not their face as this could cause trouble breathing. The piece of clothing should fit snugly against their body to reduce the risk of tripping them up, but not too tight as to restrict their normal movements or behaviour. Make sure you choose outfits and costumes that have been made for pets – and with their health and safety in mind.

Pets don’t need outfits or costumes to look adorable. If you are going to treat your animal to their own wardrobe for health reasons, be careful with your garment choices.


Photo Credit: Pikrepo