Is Wearing Clothes Comfortable for Dogs?

Even though many owners like dressing up their dogs because it makes them look “cute”, dog behavior must be taken into account to know if wearing clothes is comfortable for them.
Is Wearing Clothes Comfortable for Dogs?

Last update: 07 April, 2021

This is a question both dog owners and veterinary professionals alike often debate about. Is dressing up dogs a purely aesthetic choice or is clothing truly useful for these animals? Is wearing clothes comfortable for dogs?

To answer this question correctly, below, we’ll share the factors you must take into account to discover if it’s a good choice for your dog.

Determining factors: is wearing clothes comfortable for dogs?

Firstly, you must understand that dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, about 100°F in general. Thus, not all dogs need clothing to maintain this temperature. Their coat, breed, and skin will determine how necessary clothing is or if, on the contrary, it isn’t recommended at all.

Generally, small dogs, puppies, and old dogs are the ones that need warm clothing, especially during the winter. This is because small breeds have a bigger body surface area compared to their weight ratio, meaning they lose their heat more easily than big dogs.

Sudden temperature changes can jeopardize the dog’s health and cause the flu, so you should consider buying your small dog a coat so it doesn’t get sick.

Two dogs wearing sweaters.

How to make wearing clothes comfortable for a dog

The most important thing for you to understand is that under no circumstances should you force your pet to wear clothes that make them uncomfortable. The animal’s welfare and health are more important than anything else.

You shouldn’t dress up your dog with accessories because it makes you happy. Instead, you should do so to protect your dog from the cold and possible injuries. Therefore, we recommend you to analyze your dog’s behavior in the following way.

How to know if your dog feels comfortable wearing clothes

If your dog behaves differently when it wears clothes, it’s probably because it doesn’t fully tolerate this new object on its body. On the other hand, your dog can get used to the clothes little by little, as long as you don’t pressurize it. Remember that these animals don’t need their bodies covered in the same way humans do.

Also, your dog’s behavior will tell you if it feels scared or bothered. This happens when the garment in question is big or has embellishments protruding from it. One tip to avoid this situation is to make or buy outfits according to your dog’s size.

These are the other parameters you must take into account to make clothes more comfortable for your dog:

  • Cover the back from the withers to the base of the dog’s tail.
  • Opt for stretch fabrics that don’t obstruct its legs nor limit its movements. In the case of coats or jackets, try to choose those that don’t have overly long sleeves.
  • Avoid putting shoes on your dog. This accessory is only recommended for snow or ice.
  • Definitely no head ornaments! Very few dogs feel comfortable wearing headbands or hats, as they limit their hearing and vision.

Beware of allergic or skin reactions

Another aspect that you should take into account is that tight clothing can damage your dog’s skin. It’s important for the garments to not be too big or small; you should take measure your dog’s body  well in order to prevent clothing from hurting its skin and causing small burns.

The material of the dog’s clothing will determine how comfortable it feels and its overall well-being. Wool can keep your dog warm, but it’s also itchy. On the other hand, cotton takes longer to dry, so don’t dress your dog in cotton garments to take it on walks where it could get wet or take a dip.

Waterproof fabric or peachskin are the best options for temperate climates.

In addition, make sure that the garment’s zippers or closures won’t hurt the dog’s skin while it’s moving. Otherwise, cuts will appear that may become infected if you don’t clean them in time. As for allergies, a good idea is to test the fabric on your pet for a few hours to see if it doesn’t scratch itself.

A few dogs dressed up.

Finally, make sure you don’t buy your dog a lot of clothes. A couple of outfits will do. Keep in mind that your dog has different needs and that the most important thing is for it to be able to function and feel comfortable with the clothes that it’s wearing.

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  • Shivik, J. A. (2002). Odor-adsorptive clothing, environmental factors, and search-dog ability. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 721-727.