Pet clothing. Sounds like the punchline of a joke.
In fact, it was, in an episode of the comedy series Portlandia. Roseanne Barr guest stars as the “temporary mayor” of the city. As she strolls around admiring charming shops selling clothing, eyeglasses, and bakery items, her guides keep reminding her: “Those are for dogs.” That comedic moment was rooted in reality. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global pet clothing market topped $5 billion in 2020, an increase of 8.11% from the previous year — and that was during an economic downturn.
It demonstrates that some pet parents are willing to spend big bucks to dress up their pets in adorable outfits. And we have to admit, they can be pretty cute!
But is pet clothing necessary? Sometimes it is helpful, especially for hairless or short-haired breeds living in cold regions.
There are some things you need to know before you dress up your kitty like Cleopatra. Or your pug like a spider.
The organization PDSA provides some excellent guidelines in an article titled “Is it OK to dress up my pet?” Their top question is: Is it helping your pet or is it simply for your enjoyment?
Ask yourself the following questions when choosing clothing for your pet:
A good way to determine whether to get pet clothing is if it keeps your pet warm, comfortable, or safe.
Here are some types of clothes that are actually useful:
A couple more things to keep in mind. Pets should be supervised when they are wearing clothing so you can watch for the signs of stress or if it’s causing harm, as mentioned above. Dog jackets should have openings for harnesses or leashes. And some fabrics can be irritating to their skin or flammable.
Okay, I know some of you are still going to want to dress up your dog for Halloween or other fun holidays or events.
Some pets do enjoy being a part of this family activity, so if you are going that route, check out these suggestions for fun and safe Halloween costumes for dogs from Preventative Vet. The article reminds us to be aware of your pet’s personality and to pick (or make) a costume that suits them. If they hate the feeling of having things put over their head, don’t do it to them.
I love this suggestion for a beanie baby costume (just a tag) for fluffy pups or dogs that aren’t down for dressing up (though I would check that the dog’s front leg can’t get caught up in the tag).
The Preventative Vet article suggests taking these three steps before dressing up your dog.
Cats rarely like to wear clothing. In an article at PetCoach.com, Dr. Nancy Dunkle, founder of a cat veterinary hospital, says, “I’ve never seen a cat wearing a costume or clothing that looked happy per his facial and body language.”
If you are determined to dress up your cat for a holiday, the safest route is a seasonal-themed breakaway collar.
When in doubt, I’d suggest letting your pet be as nature intended. But you can also ask your veterinarian about the safety and utility of pet clothing. Pet store employees might know what’s safe or useful, but their job is to sell products, so buyers beware.
Above all, you can “ask” your pet what they think about it. In my experience, they will let you know just by looking at them and seeing how they react to it. I’m just happy that my cat Pearl always wears her breakaway collar, and from time to time I check to see if I can put a finger comfortably between her and her collar for her safety and my peace of mind.