I was searching online for some clothing today and I came across this question – “Is it harmful for dogs to wear clothing?” I even found an old case where the SPCA was attempting to claim that it was animal abuse to force animals to wear clothing. However, I’ve been putting my dogs in clothes for a very long time, and I’m very observant to the wants and needs of my pets.
So, why do I dress my dogs up? Is it to make them feel ridiculed? Or to force them to do something they don’t want to do? No. There are so many reasons I dress my dogs up in clothing and it’s not always because they look cute. Let’s dive into the why’s.
Short Haired Dogs.
First – I have two very short furred dogs that live with me and because they lack the long fur that they need to stay warm in certain conditions, I try to put them in clothing that will keep them warmer during season changes. Long furred dogs are wearing a fur coat all year long, so that means in you live in a colder weather area, your dog might already be protected when you take them out.
Imagine this – it’s less than 65 degrees outside and you walk out of your house naked, or, even in a very thin full body suit. Do you think that you will be warm without a sweater of some sort? You’re not wearing shoes to cover your feet and for humans, that’s a big deal because most of our body heat leaves through our feet and our heads.
Being less than room temperature of 72 degrees will feel very cold for you if you’re outside with nothing on. While short haired dogs do have a thin coat, it’s not the same as a long fur dog like a husky or lab.
Second – I have two very small Chihuahuas’s, and they are notoriously cold and shaking. I choose to put them in sweaters, coats, rain jackets or anything else that will protect them if I think they’re cold. Like small children or babies, they get cold faster than we do when we’re older and bigger. The smaller the body, the more cold it will feel on a continuous basis.
If you have small dogs like Chihuahuas’s, Yorkie’s, etc, then you know what I’m referring to when I say they shiver all the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always about cold, it could also be nerves since they can be scared often. But for my smallest dog, when she’s wearing a coat or a sweater, she doesn’t shake as much.
It may be that something wrapped around her calms her as well.
Cold Alaska Climate.
Third – If you’ve been reading my articles, then you already know that I live in Alaska. Up here, our climate is different from other states because up here, it’s naturally cold most of the time. The exception to this is if we get a decent summer and actually see our temperatures rise above 70 degrees for once.
In these instances, I don’t normally dress my dogs up unless I want to go to the lake and have them looking cute as we get on our boat. Because my dogs are used to clothing already, they don’t feel stressed when I put something on them, so regardless of whether they’re in summer clothing, they still seem happy, even in clothing.
This morning as an example – I organized my house in preparation of winter around the corner. I found a small black hat with a flower attached to it that was part of a Halloween costume I got my small dog a few years back. I wanted to show my husband this cute little hat I found, that honestly, I forgot about. I put it on Buttons and she looked so cute in this little hat!
Well, Atlas got jealous that she didn’t have one, so she stretched up on her hind legs and wrapped her front legs around me letting me know she saw the hat. She sniffed at it, looked at me like, “Where’s my hat, Mom?” I went to put it on her, but there are clips on this hat to hold it down and she’s very short furred, so I had to just hold it to her head, and she immediately started wagging her tail looking very happy to have a hat.
You know when your dogs are miserable by their reactions, and my dogs have never shown me that they don’t like clothing.
Lastly – In Alaska, we’re in our rainy season right now, so it’s been raining non-stop and when it rains up here, it gets very cold. Unlike the Hawaii rain when I lived there, it’s only 52 degrees here right now. Imagine walking out of your house in your super thin body suit when it’s 52 degrees outside. I don’t know about you, but I’d be extremely cold without a thick sweater on, socks, rain boots, etc.
When it’s this chilly out, and the environment is wet on top of that, the cold almost feels like it soaks through to your bones. People that have a broken bone really know what I mean right now. Dogs experience cold in much the same way as we do. If they’re traveling just in the vehicle with me, then I don’t put them in sweaters. But if I’m taking my dogs on a walk then I dress them up in sweaters or simply just a rain coat to keep them protected.
You can find raincoats and coats here.
So, is it harmful for dogs to wear clothing? No. Now, if I keep my dogs in clothes all the time, then I’d imagine it would bother them if I didn’t take the clothing off. I never leave clothing on my dogs for very extended periods of time. Usually for walks, or to outside if the weather requires it.
I mention dressing them up in cute bathing suits or cute outfits, but again, only when we’re going somewhere outside and not just in the house. There’s no need for my dogs to be dressed up in the house when we’re lounging.
In cold weather, which is almost all year in Alaska, they have to wear clothes to protect them. Dogs get extremely cold when it’s winter up here, and my short haired dogs HAVE to wear protection, especially when our temperatures can drop to the negatives. I would never take my dogs outside in the winter months up here without a coat, sweater and booties on. Their paws can get frost-bite, they can get extremely ill from the extreme cold and that would be animal abuse to me.
It’s all about where you live and why you’re putting your dogs in clothing and for how long. If you’re waking up and just putting them in clothing and leaving it on all day, then it can rub their fur and cause irritation. However, if you’re like me and only dressing them up for short stints of time, then it’s not cruel and even may be necessary.
Each animal is different in what they need and each state or climate it different in what your animals may require in order to be healthy, happy and loved pets. Pay attention to their needs/requirements and try to meet them as good as you can.