Many of my friends like to dress up their dogs or other pets into Christmas costumes, wedding costumes; you name it. I must admit that I quite like it.
My friend said: “If I dress like an elf, what harm does it do to dress my dog as a cute elf too? “
But do our pets actually like to be dressed up in festive costumes?
When I asked Jitka, she had a different opinion than I.
Then I asked her: but don’t you dress your dogs in warm outfits when it’s cold or raining? And don’t you put cooling bandanas and cooling outfits on them when it’s too hot? How is it different?
Jitka: Yes, but it’s for their welfare, to keep them warm or cooler, not for my or others’ entertainment. I think they know when we are laughing at them, and I don’t think they like it. I don’t mind a little hat or a costume just for a photoshoot, but wearing it, it’s a different issue.
For me, an outfit is an outfit till it is not restrictive, and the animal is not in distress or unhappy.
But do we always see if dogs are unhappy?
So we asked the expert Adam Dunn ISCP.Adv.Dip.Canine.Prac, canine behaviorist, for his opinion:
“There are approximately 700 million dogs on the planet. 525 million of who are free-roaming, who don’t wear fancy dress costumes and can make choices and show species-specific behaviours. 175 million dogs live as pets in our homes. Most of them do not have many choices in their lives and rarely get the opportunity to show species-specific behaviours without human objection.
Throughout the evolution of dogs, there has been no need for them to dress up as cartoon characters or vegetables. By choice, I would not wear fancy dress, and I’m sure there are many others like me, but I have a choice and can control my own outcomes. When considering whether it is morally and ethically appropriate to dress up dogs, we should consider, for whose benefit are we doing this, how your dog’s welfare will benefit from this, and how it may affect your dog’s behaviour.
Many costumes will cover up areas such as your dog’s ears, body, and tails which will hinder their ability to communicate, increasing the probability of confusion and escalation of behaviours. Dogs are sentient beings and, and just like humans, they have emotions. They express their inner emotions by using their ears, bodies, and tails. There is a plethora of images of dogs dressed in clothing across social media platforms, but for whose benefit is this, certainly not the dogs.”
What RSPCA thinks about it:
RSPCA advises pet owners against dressing up their pets for Christmas.
“There can be clear benefits from animals wearing some forms of clothing such as for warmth and waterproofing,” says the RSPCA. “However, the functionality must always come before fashion, and the clothing must have a clear welfare benefit when dressing animals.”
Clothing should benefit your pet. When making decisions about your pet’s clothing, their happiness should always be the top priority. Nobody wants to do anything that could make their pet unhappy-but many owners may not be aware that wearing clothing or the process of having clothing put on them can be stressful for some pets.
What is your opinion about dogs in festive costumes?