The Fran Lebowitz quote illustrated below was my inspiration for this post, after reading it on the Cesar Millan website in his gallery of dog quotes. Fran is an author and comic commentator of sorts, so we should take her quote in that context. It does, however, reflect the opinion of many people in the ‘natural pet care’ crowd.
Obviously putting clothes on a dog isn’t natural in the literal sense, but life isn’t that cut and dry and there are instances when clothing is beneficial and practical for dogs.
Situational clothing requirements may include:
- Senior dogs
- Arthritic dogs
- Dogs dealing with conditions causing hair loss
- Breeds with short hair, little or no undercoat, little fat, or a combination thereof (Italian Greyhound, Whippet, Yorkie, Maltese, Portugese Water Dog, Papillion, Doberman Pincher, Chihuahua, Chinese Shar-Pei, Lowchen, Silky Terrier, etc.)
- Protection from the elements (rain gear, etc.)
But what about dressing up a dog just for fun?
The most important question you must ask yourself is, “Is my dog happy?” If your dog appears to enjoy the attention and she shows no signs of stress while she’s wearing the clothing, I see no harm in it.
If you are forcing the issue and/or your dog’s behavior changes in a negative manner when she’s dressed up, you have to ask yourself another important question, “Who am I doing this for?” Dogs are not dolls that you can use to entertain yourself, nor are they fashion statements.
Tips for Dog Dress-up
- The less elaborate the clothing is, the more likely it is that your pet will allow it and be comfortable.
- Check dog clothes carefully to ensure there are no pieces that can be chewed off or catch on objects.
- Make sure dog clothes fit properly so they’re comfortable, stay in place, and do not restrict movement.
- Avoid elastics in pet clothes as they can be uncomfortable and impair circulation.
- Consider securing reflective material to your dog’s clothes.
- Never leave a clothed dog unsupervised.
Note: If your clothed dog acts nervous or sulky around other dogs it’s not because he’s embarrassed, but it does mean he is feeling vulnerable and you should save dress-up time for when he won’t be around his pawed pals.
Where to Get Pet Clothes
Large pet stores like PetSmart carry a good selection of dog clothes and costumes, from bandanas to t-shirts. For a more unique selection, there are dog boutiques like Oh My Dog . There are also some great online specialty shops that carry costumes for dogs, such as Costumes Inc.
You could also try crafting your own dog outfits, for which there are countless free patterns online. Check out our Free Knit, Crochet and Sewing Patterns for Animal Shelters post for a list of links to patterns for dogs, cats, birds, and more.
Does your best friend wear clothes? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
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