Dogs and clothing
You will have seen lots of content and social media posts of dogs dressed in funny and cute costumes. You must understand the implications of putting your dog into any clothing.
Understanding your dog's needs
There are 5 legal requirements you must meet for your dog. These are to meet your dog's needs concerning health, behaviour, environment, nutrition, and mental well-being. It’s important to consider these when thinking about clothes for your dog.
For example, dogs must be able to exhibit natural and normal behaviour patterns. It’s important to consider your dog's natural movements and their ability to maintain a normal body temperature. Some clothes and costumes can be restrictive, preventing dogs from grooming or running or even making toileting difficult. This loss of natural behaviours and expressions can cause stress and potential danger if clothes or costumes become entangled or tightened. It’s also important to consider if the clothing prevents your dog from communicating effectively. Body language and communication between dogs are visual and often involve subtle changes to different body parts. If the clothing prevents this natural communication method with other dogs, it could lead to misunderstandings and possible aggression. You should always be thinking about keeping your dog healthy, so consider a costume role in this. Are they likely to cause pain or risk injury from entanglement or skin and eye irritation, and should they not be worn?
Risks of clothing
It’s a well-known risk for children’s costumes to be flammable. Dogs' costumes and clothing should be made to the same standards as human costumes, with regulations to test the ignitability of fabrics used in their production. Many of the festivities in which you might reach for a costume for your dog involve naked flames such as Halloween or Christmas, so it's vital to be safe and follow best practices such as checking fabric labels. Never leave a naked flame or heat source unattended around your dog. Additionally, consider costumes and clothing risks if your dog likes to chew or swallow things. Items of clothing, tassels, and strings can present a high risk as a foreign body if swallowed by your dog.
When clothing may be helpful
There are times when clothes may be helpful or useful. For example, some dog breeds with thin coats or those recovering from ill health may feel the cold and benefit from a suitably fitted dog coat. These will protect them from the cold and wind and keep them warm. Coats, jackets, and collars can all be adapted to be high visibility for winter walks or working dogs to keep them safe and seen.
Your veterinary team may advise your dog to wear a surgical vest after surgery to prevent interference with stitches. Pressure vests and therapy tops are also often used as anti-anxiety aid in dogs that are stressed in circumstances such as loud noises. These should be discussed with your veterinary team to determine whether they suit and benefit your dog.
Clothing for your dog comes in many varieties, not all achieving the same result. Should the clothing not benefit your dog, should it be worn? Talk to your veterinary team for more guidance about your dog’s needs and situation.Back