This 14 January is time to celebrate National Dress Up Your Pet Day! But before we dive in, want to know the big difference between us and our pets? Our fur babies are born wearing their clothes (whereas we, uh, erm… are not).
Plainly put, our pet kids are always dressed to the nines. They’re always wearing the latest furry fad. Their wardrobe never goes out of date.
Despite this, many of us hanker after seeing our pet wearing actual fashion. So, when might it be ok to dress up your pet? Some pet lovers say animals should definitely not wear clothes. Ever. However, some pet specialists say there are times when it may be safe to dress up your pet.
Seeing as it’s Dress Up Your Pet Day this week, let’s look at who says what, when, how and why…
Dress up your pet: raincoats, coats and costumes
There’s a lot of online debate about whether dogs and cats (ok – mostly about dogs) should wear raincoats. And the verdict is still out.
Cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz says raincoats can make dogs feel dominated. The NY Mag interviews dog walkers who say smaller dog breeds whose undercoat of fur is less protective against cold can benefit from the cover. Miniature pinschers, chihuahuas and whippets are just some breeds of small dogs that get cold easily.
If you’re thinking of getting poochikins a racy raincoat that’s all the rage, consider the following:
- Choose a raincoat that’s lightweight, waterproof and breathable
- Make sure it’s well-fitted and doesn’t restrict movement
- Remove the raincoat as soon as your pup is indoors
- Only keep it on for short periods of time
Not sure? An obvious route that avoids a pet raincoat is to towel off your pet with a super absorbent pet towel. After all, some dogs like to romp in the rain and even some cats don’t mind it!
Adding another coat over your cat or dog’s fur coat is generally not advisable. Add a jersey or coat to the mix, and they can overheat and panic.
Although domesticated, both feline and canine paw babies can regulate their own body temperature. That said, PetMD advises that in some cases your cat can wear a sweater or shirt. For example, if your kitty-cat has had fur removed for surgery then a cuddlesome top can be a comfort.
In especially cold climates, hairless cat breeds like the Sphynx may benefit from an added layer.
Small dog breeds find it harder to retain their body heat. The same can be said of short haired dogs, who, unlike their wolf ancestor are sans a thick downy undercoat.
If the temperature drops below zero, it’s time to tune into your dog’s behaviour. Consider their age too – as puppies and older dogs can get cold more easily. Other factors to consider include breed, size and season.
According to PetMD, shivering, refusing to walk or lifting paws off the ground means your dog is cold. The trick is to get a well-fitted coat, jersey or jacket. Speak to your vet about what material is suitable for your canine cuddler.
On hot days, dogs should definitely, definitely only wear mother nature’s clothes (the ones they were born in). Learn how to keep pets safe in summer.
Fancy dressing up your pet
Social media has given rise to many more pets in costumes. To most of us it looks great, plus it gets likes, laughs and comments for the pet owner. But have you asked your dog, cat or bird if they want to wear accessories/rompers over their feathers or fur?
Some pet parents will say yes, and we believe you…. But, if you’ve seen the “yanny vs laurel” video everyone’s debating online, you’ll know the answer open to interpretation.
BTW, what did your pet say?
We say, before you dress up your pet, ask your vet.
Hot and cold – how to protect your pets
It’s important to note that while pets can regulate their body temperature, they can still get too hot or cold. And they can still get sick.
Dogs can get kennel cough in New Zealand (also known as canine cough), similar to the human cold. Cats can get acute toxoplasmosis, an infectious disease which Auckland University scientists say is also dangerous to humans.
Consider cat insurance or dog insurance to protect your pet in case of illness, accident and more. The positive is peace of mind for you and security for your fur baby. Besides, happiness and health is surely far cuter than a fancy dress costume 😊.
Dress up your pet – over to you
We’re still keen to hear what you think your pet says about wearing clothes. And about what your position is on it. Is it OK to doll up boof in a woolly jumper? Or put peaches in a pair of sunnies? Don’t just send us a comment below – post a pic via our Facebook page too!