RSPCA advises pet owners against dressing up their pets for Christmas
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RSPCA advises pet owners against dressing up their pets for Christmas

Health & Safety

Now that Christmas is fully upon us, many pet owners are looking for ways to involve their pets such as cats and dogs in the festivities this year, and for many people, this may mean buying a fun outfit or fancy dress costume for their dog or even cat! Few people can deny that some of the internet’s images of Christmas dogs such as a Pug in a Santa suit or a tiny Chihuahua dressed as an elf are adorably cute, but new advice from the RSPCA this year urges pet owners to think twice before putting an unusual outfit on their pets, for various reasons.

In this article, we will look at the RSPCA’s advice in more detail, in order to help pet owners to make an informed decision on doing what is best for their pets. Read on to learn more.

What’s the issue?

The potential challenges of putting a costume on your pet whilst keeping them happy and well are various, and we will look into some of these in more detail.

First of all, whilst certain costumes and outfits are designed specifically for pets, every animal is different, and costumes that simply come in small or large will not be an ideal fit for all of them. Added to this, as costumes are a novelty item, they are not particularly well designed in terms of comfort and safety, and may have small parts that can be dangerous, or generally, be uncomfortable to wear.

Also, dogs and cats are not used to having their bodies covered or restricted, and this can make your pets stressed or uncomfortable, and they may well go to some lengths to try to get their costume off. Wearing an extra layer of unnecessary clothing can cause your pet to overheat too.

Flapping hats or loose fabric may bother your pet and distress them, and while seeing your pet dressed up can be amusing, your dog or cat may not be in on the joke.

Actually dressing up a dog or a cat can be risky too, as your pet probably won’t cooperate with you, nor like it. This means that they may struggle or lash out in their distress, which is not only potentially dangerous for the owner, but also, shows that your pet is not happy with things, and so, you should probably stop what you are doing.

Finally, any form of outfit from a full costume to a simple hat will cover your pet and so, mask their body language so that you will essentially restrict their ability to communicate, and your ability to read their cues. If your dog is wearing a hat, you will not be able to see how their ears are moving and interpret their feelings, which comes with risks of its own.

Are there any exceptions?

The RSPCA’s advice is firm on the fact that costumes and Christmas outfits for pets should, in their opinion, be avoided, from the point of view of the comfort and welfare of the pet itself.

As mentioned, even hats can cover your dog’s ears and get in the way, as well as all of the wider problems that a full costume can cause, and so in the RSPCA’s opinion, costumes are not a good thing, particularly if you intend to dress your pet up for the whole day.

If you want to take a picture of your pet in a costume, you should consider carefully whether or not your pet will be ok with this, and if it is in their best interests-you can always consider photoshopping a Santa hat or other get-up onto your pet later, without having to bother them!

You can also compromise with a nice festive collar that is designed to fulfil a true purpose, and that just happens to be decorative for the season as well!

Coats and warm clothing

Costumes and fancy dress are of course not the same as winter clothing and coats for dogs that are apt to feel the cold, and some small dogs and those with very fine coats need to wear a coat or jumper when going out in the cold, in order to help them to maintain their body temperature and stay comfortable.

Clothes of this sort are designed to work in your pet’s best interests and be worn for activity and walking, and so if your dog needs a coat or jumper to go outside and you happen to be able to pick one up that is festive and funky as well, there is no harm in this.

However, you should assess whether or not that Christmas coat really is designed to keep your dog warm and happy, or if it is really more about dressing your pet up, and follow the RSPCA’s advice accordingly.

Remember that coats and jumpers are meant for cold weather and walks only, and that few dogs will need to wear a coat or clothing when in the house.

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