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Do or Don’t: Dressing Your Pets

LB.  Halloween Portraits of the Pets.

When temperatures dip below freezing, you bundle up in puffy coats, cozy socks, scarves and hats and gloves — should you do the same for your pet? Here are both sides — let us know where you stand!

It’s hard to believe that dogs and cats are comfortable and safe in the dead of winter, regardless of the fact that, well, they’re always in fur coats. Pet-friendly sweaters, coats, and footwear are readily available, with options from casual to designer, and there’s no denying that they look adorable. But is it really necessary or practical? Here’s all you need to know so you can make an informed decision for yourself and your pet.

DON’T: Our pets evolved from wild animals who live outside year-round without getting sick. If your pet has a thicker coat with longer fur, clothes may be unnecessary and can even cause heat strokes. Ill-fitting clothes can rub uncomfortably, curb movements, and even inhibit pets’ ability to communicate with other animals. Some argue that clothes and costumes are embarrassing for pets, and unhappy pets could act out.

DO: An added layer of warmth can be beneficial for some furry friends, especially if they’re thin, small, senior, or have short fur and thin coats. And since many dogs and cats are used to living in climate-controlled homes, they’re not as capable of staying warm as their wild cousins. Some items — like raincoats and Muttluks — provide comfort and protection from the harsh elements or slippery indoor floors, and Thunder Shirts can calm anxious pups. Plus, dressing pets up can be a fun and cute way to include them in the family, and they may love the extra attention.

If you’d like to try dressing your cat or dog, here are some tips to bear in mind:

  • Use treats and positive reinforcement to get them oriented as you would with any other new trick.
  • If at any point your pet seems unhappy or uncomfortable, take off the clothes. Each pet will feel differently, so it’s up to you to read their signals.
  • Be mindful — your pet will let you know if she wants out. Dogs might roll over, avoid eye contact, scratch at the clothes, lick their lips, or freeze up. Cats will meow, hiss, try to bite or claw, or lie down.

What about you: Do you dress your pets or do you say ‘no way’? Let us know in the comments!