Do dogs like wearing clothes?

DrPaul -

Do dogs like wearing clothes?

As Halloween is right around the corner, you may be adding the final touches to your costumes and your dog’s matching costume. However, it’s important to remember that not all dogs like wearing costumes and may become distressed and anxious if they are forced into them. 

Some people enjoy dressing up their dogs for various reasons, for example Christmas or Halloween and some animal welfare companies include competitions for dogs and owners to dress up for fundraising events. It’s important to consider what the experience is like for your dog. Some pets will tolerate wearing costumes and outfits and don’t appear to notice but others will find the experience uncomfortable and unpleasant. You should observe your dog’s reaction and don’t dress them in outfits and costumes if they show obvious discomfort which can usually consist of difficulty moving ‘freezing’, struggling to remove the outfit or signs of anxiety, like panting. If you still want to dress up your dog, perhaps a bandana or festive collar/harness would be a better fit and style for your dog.

Even dogs that appear calm when dressed up should still be supervised closely and only wear costumes for short periods of time. If your dog starts showing any signs of distress, you should remove the costume immediately as body costumes can cause overheating and heat stress, especially in hot weather. When dogs wear costumes it can sometimes impair their ability to communicate to their owners as well as with other animals. Animals communicate through body language such as ears, tails or body position to tell you how they’re feeling. If your dog struggles to communicate because of a costume it can make them scared or anxious because you could miss important signs such as them needing the toilet.

Things to consider when buying an outfit/costume for your dog:

  • Does it cover your dog’s mouth or nose restricting them from eating, drinking or breathing?
  • Does it obscure their vision by covering their eyes or face?
  • Does it prevent them from expressing their natural behaviours for example walking, resting or toileting?
  • Is it too tight to cause overheating or too loose to get snagged on something?

When are clothes useful for dogs?

Some items of clothing are important when helping your dog stay warm, comfortable and safe when out on walks such as:

  • A winter coat which can help dogs with missing or very thin fur to stay warm. 
  • Surgical vests which can help them to stop licking their stitches but they shouldn’t be too baggy because it could get snagged on something or prevent them from moving naturally which can cause recovery to slow down. 
  • Hi-vis jackets as they are useful during the winter when going on walks as well as working animals that wear them to keep them safe in dangerous situations and near busy roads.
If you are unsure about whether you should dress them up perhaps avoid it all together. If your dog doesn’t like wearing clothes but you still want them to be included why not check out our range of brass halloween tags here

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.