Dressing your Pets for Winter- Is it Functional or Fashionable?

The question of function or fashion is dividing pet owners around the country. Some pet lovers swear dressing up their dog or cat is completely fine and the animals don’t mind. Others cringe every time they see an animal in an outfit.

Australians spend more than $12 billion on their pets every year, including a 90 percent increase on luxuries such as designer clothes in the last 3 years. No one spends that kind of money on someone if they don’t want them to be happy, but who are you really buying for?

Coming into winter, this question is particularly appropriate and all of the vets we’ve come across say there’s nothing wrong with putting a jumper on your dog or cat if they’re cold.

But the next time you’re wondering whether you’re dressing your pet up to keep them warm or for your own amusement, ask yourself these questions.

Does your pet feel the cold?

Feeling the cold comes down to a few different factors including breed, body fat, age, general health and the temperature your pet is used to.

Smaller breeds and those with short hair or low body fat are more likely to feel the cold. These dogs can include Jack Russells, Maltese, Chihuahuas, Labradors, whippets and greyhounds to name a few. Cats can include Siamese cats, Abyssinians, Rex felines and Sphynx cats. So if you see a breed like this in a jacket, don’t judge! It’s probably genuinely cold.

On the other hand, dogs with thick fur such as Huskies, Malamutes and Samoyeds are excellent at keeping themselves warm. Similarly, Siberians, ragdolls and Persian cats are more likely to feel comfortable in the cold.

Older animals, puppies and kittens and animals who are unwell are also more likely to feel the cold and be affected by sickness associated with the cold.

Like humans, dog and cats acclimatize to the temperatures they live in. So, while in Europe, small short-haired dogs might be comfortable walking outside in 7 degree temperatures, the same dog from Queensland might struggle.

Is your pet comfortable?

There are some easy tells that will let you know if your pet is uncomfortable. If your dog is panting in their jacket, they’re probably too hot.  If they’ve got their tail between their legs, or are yawning or licking their lips a lot, they’re probably uncomfortable in the outfit they’re wearing. However, if they’re shivering, seem to be moving around slowly, whining, feel cold to touch or display the above behaviors in cold weather, a jacket may be the solution.

Your cat might tell you they hate their outfit by flicking their tail, striking or grooming excessively. Signs they are cold include shivering and seeking out the warmest spot in the house to lay down.

Is it all for the likes?

Of course, there’s a difference between dressing your loved one in a cozy outfit because they’re cold while taking advantage of the photo opportunity, and forcing them into an outfit they hate just for social media likes while they’re stressed and uncomfortable.

Sometimes it is beneficial to put a jumper on them, and if it happens to be Ralph Lauren… Well hey, you do you. As long as they’re happy- there’s no harm.