Top tips for dressing your dog up safely at Christmas

Tis the season to dress your dogs in silly outfits to snap an adorable photo by the Christmas tree. Guilty, each and every year.

According to pet food and toy manufacturer Webbox, around 72% of pet owners plan on dressing their furry friends up at Halloween – and the same pet parents are likely to do exactly the same in December too.

There’s festive collars and bandana accessories, as well as headwear and Christmas jumpers, with a number of high street retailers launching pooch and pawrent ranges just in time for Christmas Jumper Day on December 10, like Boohoo, Very and Next.

There’s a debate in the dog community as to whether dressing up your dog is cruel, and at Lady and The Scamps, we’re pretty pro-costumes, so long as it’s done safely, and doesn’t cause the dogs any unnecessary stress.

Pet expert at Webbox, Julia Butcher added: “It is understandable that companies want to maximise their reach and cash in on the buying frenzy. However, whilst our pets might look cute in the outfits advertised to us, it is important we are putting their safety and comfort first.”

Christmas is a day to enjoy, and since our pets are part of our families, it’s normal to want them to join in the fun. Ensuring your pets’ safety and comfort will only improve the experience for everyone, so shop responsibly and make good choices for your furry friends!

Read more: 10 Christmas toxins to keep away from dogs this festive season

In 2019, BorrowMyDoggy got 350 dogs in London to meet up to break the world record for the most amount of dogs wearing Christmas jumpers – breaking the record they set in 2017, of 300 dogs. It’s thought that more than 1,000 pooches and pet parents donned their favourite festive knit for the charity event, raising thousands for the Save The Children charity.

You and your dog can get involved to help improve the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities, by wearing festive outfits and donating to the Save The Children charity here.

Here are some top tips from Webbox to make the experience both safe and enjoyable for your dogs this December.

If they don’t like it, don’t do it! Some pets simply do not feel comfortable being dressed up, and if this is the case, do not force them into it. It doesn’t matter how cute they might look dressed as a little Elf or Christmas pudding, if they’re not comfortable it’s best to leave the costumes with the elf on the shelf.

You could still get a festive photo by posing them in front of a Christmas backdrop, or in front of your Christmas tree.

Make sure the costume is safe and comfortable. Your furry friend should still be able to move, vocalise, see and hear clearly whilst wearing their costume. Minimising your pet’s autonomy or range of movement will cause them distress, so be careful to check sizing.

Allow for some ‘settling in’ time. Let your pet have a sniff of the costume so they become accustomed to the smell and texture of the material. It’s also a good idea to try it on your pet before the big day, so you can see if they’re comfortable, if it fits well, and gives them a chance to ‘practice’ wearing it – with lots of positive reinforcement, of course.

Pay attention to your pet’s body language. Since they can’t communicate with us vocally, our four-legged companions will convey how they’re feeling through body language, which some costumes can mask. Keeping a close eye on any changes in body language will prove invaluable, especially if you’re at an event with other animals.

Never leave them on their own. Many costumes, no matter how simple, can pose serious risk for a pet if they get caught or stuck in it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so if you are having to leave your pet alone for any amount of time, be sure to remove the costume.

Be aware of choking hazards: Accessories may look cute, but they may act as a choking hazard for excitable or curious pets. Make sure to remove anything that dangles, or is easy to chew off.

Make sure your pet’s ID tags are still visible: It is a legal requirement that dogs have a collar with an ID tag on at all times when they are outside of the house, so make sure you are still able to incorporate this if you’re taking them out on a festive walk in their Christmas jumper.

Get creative. If your pet doesn’t like wearing a full costume but is comfortable wearing a collar, for example, then incorporate this into the outfit choice. Bandanas are a great way to do this, and this year, I even made my own.

Make sure you’re using non-toxic materials. Stick to pet-friendly materials so you’re not worrying about vet’s visits if something gets chewed.

Praise them with fuss and treats. No matter how comfortable they are in their costume, your pet is not wearing it for their own benefit, so make sure to reward them with plenty of praise, affection and treats (keep the human treats out of reach, though).

Where are Phoebe and Frank’s outfits from?

  • Pyjamas – Home Bargains
  • Jumpers – Aldi
  • Bandanas – Homemade
  • Antlers – Home Bargains

You might find the following year your pet has outgrown their Christmas jumper, but there are plenty of ways dog clothes can be repurposed, as unwanted outfits can be donated to charity shops or to a local dog shelter as long as they are clean and in good repair.

BusinessWaste.co.uk also encourages swapping outfits with other pet owners, to reduce the amount of clothing is being needlessly bought, therefore you can get more use out of the outfits with the added bonus of keeping your dog’s Instagram content fresh each year!

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