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Should we dress our pets up?

Updated on September 28, 2014
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The topic of dressing pets up is one of perennial debate.

You will not find many owners dressing pets up in Singapore. Thankfully, owners are sensible enough to realize that the hot and humid weather here would make their pets extremely uncomfortable.

Dressing a pet, while understandable at times necessary, is an inconvenience.

Should we dress our pets, and if so, when?

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A. Why people dress their pets : ten perceptions to debunk

I begin by stating that I am a fervent pet-lover and would never dress my dog in the cloying weather we have here.

However, before we give owners who do the thumbs down, we should empathize with their reasoning. It would put us in a better place to explain the disadvantages of keeping a pet dressed and debunk a few perceptions.

1. A pet is like a child.

Devoted owners love their furry children. For those who do not enjoy the good fortune of having children, a pet takes their place.

Dressing up is a human need that owners project on their pets. Owners need to realize that pets do not have the same needs they do.

2. Owners are afraid of the cold.

Further, the cold overwhelms them. They assume that pets feel the same discomfort.

Sweaters are the most common clothing owners put on their pets. Again, pets do not have the same needs as humans, as I will explain later in this article.

3. They want to make pets conversation topics.

Apart from harsh, cold weather, owners have a need to make pets conversation topics.

We know that owners who have pets make friends easily. I get to know a few new people each time I bring Cloudy to the park.

Owners have a need to connect more with their friends. What better conversation topic than a dressed-up pet?

That being said, there are other matters we can talk about.

4. They genuinely believe that their pets like it.

Owners genuinely believe that their furry companions like dressing up, especially if they put up no resistance to having clothes put on.

No resistance does not necessarily show willingness.

5. They show off a pet's personality.

Clothes show what a pet is like. A macho sweater may capture a tough bulldog's personality. Sunglasses show off the chic of a chihuahua.

That being said, clothes are not as close to an animal’s nature as some may think.

6 Pets love mimicking their owners

Some owners see their pets following them around and believe that their pets simply love imitating them.

Pets are loyal creatures that want the best for their owners, so they will follow them around constantly. But it does not mean that they want to imitate their fashion sense.

7. Clothes serve as protection.

Many caring owners want to protect their furry charges from the cold. Hence, they buy the prettiest sweaters for them to wear during the fall.

As I shall explain in the next section, pets are adequately protected, so owners need not fear.

8. Dressing a pet adds variety.

For some owners, dressing a pet up adds variety to routine. It is a fun activity for all and a pleasant change.

Again, a dressed pet is being tolerant.

9. Dressing a pet presents a bonding opportunity.

Dressing a pet up gives owners an opportunity to connect with their pets, and is rare time spent.

Pets, however, may spend more time being uncomfortable than bonding with their owners.

10. It also presents a photo opportunity.

Pets in pretty clothing, doubtless, present wonderful photo opportunities.

However, notice the grouchy faces in many pet photographs.

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Do you dress your pet?

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C. Why a pet should shed his clothes

Credible reasons aside, a pet must shed clothes when possible. There are reasons why, as George Orwell put it, animals should go naked.

1. Clothes cause itchiness.

Clothes cause extreme itchiness. An extra coat of hair on top of the ones a dog or cat already have may cause skin irritations that make them scratch.

The worst part of that is that the poor animal is not able to soothe those itches, with another thick covering over its skin.

2. Extreme discomfort with flea bites

Flea bites are already extremely itchy, so if another layer of clothing covers them, the annoyance worsens.

A flea bite, more itchy than a mosquito’s, is a dubious pleasure.

3. Their coats are protective enough.

As mentioned earlier, earnest owners want to protect their pets as much as possible.

However, dogs, especially double-coated ones, have enough protection during the winter months. Nature did not forget that animals need protection from the cold.

Only a few hairless breeds of dogs and cats, such as the Chinese Crested Hairless, need a sweater for added defense.

They also have an extra layer of fat that acts as protection.

4. They do not need it for their self-esteem.

Woe betide us if we were to run naked on the streets.

That humorous picture aside, clothes bolster our self-esteem. We want to prevent awkward situations and, of course, avoid spending the night in the county jail.

However, pets have no need for that self-esteem.

A little girl on why we should not dress pets

D. How can we dress a pet without causing discomfort?

If dressing up a pet is a must, then do so while subjecting them to as little discomfort as possible. There are, fortunately, some ways to strike a balance.

1. We can let them wear booties on hot days.

Booties are a relief when heat from the pavement sears an animal’s foot pads.

In Singapore last year, the Pollutant Standard Index hit the very unhealthy range of 400. I had to stay home with a mask on, and Cloudy teared.

She could not go for her walks for several days, which made her angst-ridden.

Booties were a solution to block the assault of the searing heat. Do bear in mind to use these only when necessary, because they block the animal’s sweat glands in their paws.

2. They can wear very little clothes.

Make any clothing absolutely minimal. Even a crested hairless only needs a sweater.

Fashionable collars are available, so there is no need to dress the dog up to the nines.

3. Dress them only on special occasions.

Wait for special occasions to dress a pet. Take off any clothes as soon as possible.

National Dress Your Pet Day, on January 14, is every owners’ chance to show his pet off. It is also in the middle of winter.

However, do remove clothing as soon as the festivities are over.

4. Do so only if your pet feels comfortable.

Only dress or accessorize a pet if it feels comfortable. Remove any accessories if it begins to scratch uncomfortably.

5. Avoid clothes or accessories that prevent excretion.

Some owners dress their pets in clothes that block excretory pathways. They should avoid doing this, unless they are ready to remove clothes regularly to let their dogs ease themselves.

6. Never paint your pet.

Some owners enjoy shaving hair off pets and getting their skin painted.

Again, this causes skin irritation and allergies, in the same way face paint does for some of us.

Reasons for dressing a pet
Advantages
Disadvantages
Pets are like children
Clothes are necessary in extreme weather.
Clothes cause itchiness.
Clothes are a defence against cold weather.
It is entertaining on very special occasions.
They cause more discomfort if there are flea bites.
They become the center of attention.
 
A pet's coat is already protective.
Owners think that pets like dressing up.
 
They do not have a need for self esteem
They show off a pet's personality.
 
 
Owners believe that pets love imitating them.
 
 
Dressing a pet adds variety to routine.
 
 
These are bonding and photo opportunities.
 
 
Source

Conclusion

If there is an absolute need to dress a pet, do so with discretion and the pet’s comfort in mind.

Do share your views about dressing pets.


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    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      I too agree with your reasoning here Michelle--great article!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I really do agree with your reasoning, you have stated your case very well.

    • Ann1Az2 LM profile image

      Ann1Az2 LM 2 years ago

      I always remember the flack I got from my dog when I was kid when I tried to dress her up - she hated it. I just assumed they were all that way and never tried after I grew up. Of course, now I have cats and dressing them up would be ghastly! At least, they would think so.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      I suppose it's the right time or place pkmcruk!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Some decorative feel, Ms Biz Pro!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Hooray for team spirit, Susan! That's ok!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      That's true, Mary!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Aquamarine. She would certainly be!

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 2 years ago from Cheshire UK

      I cannot for one minute believe that our rescue cat Charlie would let us dress him up in anything :-) Personally I don't like seeing animals dressed up but each to their own I guess.

    • MsBizPro profile image

      Anna Green 2 years ago from North Carolina

      I don't have a dog, but I sometimes put pantaloons on my tuxedo cat, but I never make him wear them outside the house. My other cats would feel uncomfortable and humiliated, but this little guy likes some old fashioned cat couture.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Other than a cute scarf for Daisy a few times, we don't dress our pets. Our grand-pups, though, occasionally wear team shirts on game day. :)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Min Pins need protection from the cold, their hairless bellies make them very sensitive, however, someone needs to tell my Min Pin. When I try to put his sweater on you would think I was trying a new form of torture. I can't understand dressing dogs all the time, after all they are dogs!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Aquamarine18 profile image

      Aquamarine18 2 years ago

      Very good food for thought. I have wondered many times why people dress up their pets and how the pets themselves feel about this. I never dress my dog. I think it would just me projecting my human thoughts and nature on her and I really think she would be uncomfortable in clothes

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Rasma!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      It makes them uncomfortable, really, Devika!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      That's true, Nithya!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Chitra!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      True. My point exactly....the clothing is meant for humans, not dogs. That's why we should use discretion!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Ok, now I'm picturing dancing dogs in tutus, and I am absolutely rolling over the floor with laughter. LOL! Cool, Brite Ideas!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Cool, dragonflycolor!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Gotcha Bill. I feel the same way!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Interesting hub. Great pics. Never having had a dog I cannot say if he would like it or not. My cat would kill me. I do find dogs adorable when they are dressed up. Loved your hub and passing it on.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I think it is ridiculous to dress your pets. I don't think any pet should be dressed let them live normally. Love them and care for them dressing them up makes their lives more difficult with something attached around their bodies.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Pets are best without dressing them up. When they are dressed up they will definitely feel uncomfortable. As you say if pets have to be dressed up then their comfort should be definitely taken into consideration.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is an interesting and necessary food for thought. I don't think it is necessary to dress them up. But I have seen people dressing them up.

      We must observe the behavior of the pets, whether they are feeling comfortable or not.

      Thanks and voted up!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      Interesting thoughts. My dog is a Jack Russell. She shivers when the temps are under 65. I only put a dog jacket on her when it's colder and when we take our walk. Inside, she has to rely on her blankets or snuggle up to a human (and she does!). I'm not choosing to let her be cold. She is completely traumatized by her dog jacket, so I limit wearing time to when it is necessary. When she wears it she becomes a different dog. She mopes around and acts depressed. When it comes off, she acts as if she is liberated.

      I think most dog clothing is more for the humans than for the dog. Though, I do know a dog that gets all excited when its time to put on her little jacket or t-shirt.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I've put a cute santa hat on my doggie, but man did she hate it! it was funny watching her get it off though. My doggie doesn't like anything binding, so if I did dress her up I would have to use a tu-tu :)

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      dragonflycolor 2 years ago

      I'll dress them for once a year photo opportunities and extreme cold weather if they are outside for long periods of time. Other than that, they can run around naked. Thanks!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know if we should, but I know that we don't. :) Sorry, I've just got too much to do....I give them a great life, but they will have to dress themselves. :)

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      Do you dress your pet?