Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
As the weather turns colder and the holidays approach, many pet owners start thinking of the adorable Halloween costumes and cozy sweaters they can put on their pets. While these outfits can be fun and festive, the wrong outfit can cause harm to your animal.
Dr. Mark Stickney, Director of General Surgery Services at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, shares some tips and insight on how to protect your pet while celebrating the season.
While Dr. Stickney agrees that costumes and clothes are a fun way to interact with your animals, he emphasizes that the most important thing to remember when dressing your pet is to monitor them.
“Cute little costumes are fun to put on your animals while trick-or-treating, but when you are not watching your animals, make sure to take them off,” said Dr. Stickney.
He also stresses that this also goes for sweaters, jackets or any other clothing you may put on your pet. While you may think your pets need clothes to stay warm, they can do more harm than good if the animal is not monitored.
Dr. Stickney states, “More than likely your animal does not need to keep clothing on to stay warm, even in the winter. If you have a house pet that only goes outside for 15-20 minutes to go to the bathroom, they will be more than fine without the clothing.”
Although it is important to watch your pets while they are dressed it is also important to make sure the outfits you buy them fit correctly. Anything that can wrap around your pets neck, paws or legs can cause them to panic and seriously injure themselves.
“This is especially common in small or young dogs as many costumes may not fit them correctly because of their size,” states Dr. Stickney. “The best way to select pet costumes or clothing is to buy them at a pet store where you can take your pet with you and try the outfit on them. That way you will know for sure that it not only fits correctly but that it also looks as adorable as you hoped.”
Other things Dr. Stickney says to avoid in pet clothing are dangly pieces of fabric, bells or other small objects that can be chewed off and swallowed by your pet. These things can cause your animal to choke, cause blockages in their intestinal track, or worse.
“Ribbons and bows are especially dangerous for cats. These are things cats love to play with and chew on, but if they swallow them it causes what is called a ‘linear foreign body’. This requires emergency surgery to remove or it can ‘saw’ a hole in the intestines,” warns Dr. Stickney.
One other minor problem that pets may experience when wearing costumes is that they may be allergic to the clothing materials or the detergent in which it has been washed.
Dr. Stickney states, “If your dog is allergic to a costume or clothing they may develop an itchy red rash. The best thing to do is to take the outfit off of the pet and retire it. There is no reason to cause your pet pain and discomfort.”
By keeping your pet’s safety and comfort in mind you can make sure this holiday season is a fun treat for you and your animal.