Why not to dress up your pet

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Whilst quite a lot of people think it’s cute to dress up their pets, we would like you to consider the following before you either dress up your own pets or encourage someone else to do so:  

1. Costumes and clothes can hide your animals body language. 

While you may think that your pet looks really cute dressed up as superman, chances are you aren’t able to see his body language under that costume. This means your pet could be scared, anxious or nervous and because you can’t easily see his body language, this could lead to a potentially dangerous situation with other animals, adults and especially children. 

2. Your pet probably hates it. 

There are many subtle signals that our pets give us to try to make us aware that they are frightened or anxious in any given situation. Some of these are licking their lips, curled down tail, unusually quiet behaviour, whale eye (where the whites of his eyes show) or walking ‘funny’ because of discomfort caused by the costume. BUT remember point 1 – the costume could be hiding how your pet really feels and he may just be suffering in silence. 

3. Costumes can impair your pet’s ability to see and hear. 

Costumes that come with hats, hoods, head pieces and hair can impair your pet’s ability to see and hear. This can be very scary to an animal who may already be really unhappy in the get-up you’ve chosen for him. The owner’s desire to put him in a costume can never justify a stressed out and scared pet  

4. Animal costumes often don’t fit well. 

If the costume is too big it can create a tripping hazard, your pet may get his paws stuck inside or get caught on things when walking past them. If the costume is too small it could restrict movement, cause overheating and in severe cases even restrict blood flow. This is a particular hazard for dogs like pugs, bulldogs and boxers who struggle to regulate their body heat on a normal day – never mind while wearing a snowman outfit! 

5. Costumes can be a health hazard. 

Many costumes have ornaments, fasteners, wires etc on them that could hurt your pet if chewed, and can cause internal injuries or blockages if swallowed. Some pets don’t like the feeling of confinement and will tug at any clothes to get them off. Your pet may also paw at his costume if he is uncomfortable and may get a paw stuck which can lead to excessive stress or injury. Plus, there is always the chance that your pet may be allergic to the fabric or she could suffer damage to her skin if the fabric is course, as some netting costumes are. 

Nothing should prevent your pet from reaching his food or water bowl, and nothing should stop him from lying down comfortably or moving freely. If your pet is walking “funny” or showing any signs of discomfort, it’s time to remove the costume. If your pet freezes up and refuses to move, your pet is very distressed and you need to remove the costume immediately. 

While costumes may seem fun to us, always consider if your pet will really enjoy the outfit, or if the enjoyment is only for you. If you pet looks in any way uncomfortable, rather let him enjoy watching you dress up from a safe spot with a good treat. 

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