Dressing Companion Animals Up Is a Bad Look

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3 min read

In the age of social media, humans love to post pictures of their beloved animal companions online. As the lights of many of our lives, how could we not talk about and share photos of our friends? But as you may know, not every animal post is equal. Animal companions depend on their human guardians for everything—food, water, shelter, love, and respect. It’s speciesist to mock them, scare them, or possibly even injure them for the sake of earning online brownie points—and dressing them up for our amusement potentially checks all those boxes. Ahead of National Dress Up Your Pet Day, keep reading to learn why a cat or dog costume is a bad idea.

For Them or for Us?

Caring for our companions can include helping them with plenty of things that they’re not exactly thrilled about. Getting them to take medicine? Yuck! Taking them to the doctor? Sorry Buddy! Not letting them eat plastic? Oh, shoot! The common denominator among all these things, though, is that they’re in our companions’ best interests.

PETA rescued ca Desmond at PETA headquarters
This dashing cat is wearing a simple outfit: a collar and his birthday suit!

Dressing for the Occasion

But sometimes there are great reasons to clothe our animal companions: Comfortable walking harnesses, windbreakers, raincoats, insulated coats, calming jackets, and shoes for cold and hot weather are all items that can protect them. It’s important that we give them time to get used to wearing these things—especially shoes, which can affect their mobility—and observe and respect their preferences. Remember, it’s about protection, not style!

Costumes, on the other hand, are a terrible thing to put on your dog or cat.

Novelty garments sold online or in pet shops are made for human enjoyment and don’t address your companion’s actual needs. They’re often poorly constructed or uncomfortable and are seldom used, so animals may find them unfamiliar and confusing. These costumes are designed to attract attention, which subjects animals to potentially stressful social encounters in uncomfortable clothing.

a dark brown short haired dog standing next to three pumpkins, with no dog costume on
This dog enjoys seasonal fun without a dog costume!

No Cat or Dog Costume on Halloween—or Any Day

Humans often dress their cat or dog up in costumes for Halloween because they’ve been sold on the idea that animal companions should be treated like little humans. However, humans wear costumes because we want to. Our animal friends don’t share this desire and don’t understand what’s going on. Remember that holiday celebrations are already a stressful disruption of our companions’ routine, so spare them the added stress of a costume, which may impair their sight, confuse them, or make them uncomfortable.

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