January 14 - Dress Up Your Pet Day

January 14 is National Dress Up Your Pet Day. The first Dress Up Your Pet Day, held in 2009, was created to promote pet adoption by encouraging people to adopt a pet, then dress it up and share a photo on social media using the hashtag #DressUpYourPetDay.

A small white and black short coat dog is wearing green and purple butterfly wings on its head

If your pet enjoys dressing up, you could consider throwing a dress up your pet party at your house or pet parade in your street to show off your pets in costumes. Not every pet enjoys dressing up however, and you should never force your pet to wear a costume if it makes them feel uncomfortable. There are also other precautions you should take when selecting a costume for your pet and dressing them up which you can read about below.

An orange tabby cat with a red handkerchief around its neck sits on a small white table

Safety Tips for Dress Up Your Pet Day

Beware of Hazards

When selecting a costume for your pet, take note of any choking hazards such as buttons, frills, bows and other decorative pieces that may tear off easily and could become lodged in your pet’s airways. These kinds of costumes are best avoided unless you have an incredibly well-trained pet who you know won’t be tempted to chew on any loose pieces.

Don't Cover Up

Never select a costume for your pet that covers their eyes, ears, nose or mouth. Just like you wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to walk around with your eyes or ears covered, neither would your pet. It is also worth noting if a costume will prevent your pet from going to the bathroom while they are wearing it which could lead to some accidents.

A small black and white dog is wearing a unicorn costumer

Make Sure It's Just Right

Make sure any costume you choose for your pet isn’t too restrictive, especially around their neck. You should be able to fit two fingers in between your pet and their costume, if you can’t, the costume is too tight for your pet.

Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold

Select a costume that is appropriate for the weather. January in Australia is a notoriously hot time of year, but if you live in the northern hemisphere, January is the middle of winter. Your pet won’t want to wear a full jumper in the middle of summer.

A small white dog wearing a black and red check handkerchief sits against a dark grey background

No Capes! (if your pet doesn't like them)

Some pets might tolerate wearing one or two pieces of a costume such as a hat or bow tie but don’t feel comfortable in a cape. This is perfectly OK and you should reward and praise your pet for tolerating whatever they choose to wear.

Say No To Zippers

Avoid costumes with zippers as they can become stuck in your pets’ fur when zipping up their costume.

A large brown and white dog is wearing a bear ears costume

Keep Watch & Don't Go Outside Alone

Never ever leave your pet unattended while they are wearing a costume as it can only take a matter of seconds for your pet to become tangled or ingest a loose piece. The costume can become tangled in fences, trees or bushes and your pet might panic and injure themselves trying to escape.

Too Old or Too Young?

Full costumes are not a great idea for senior dogs and cats, or puppies and kittens who might lack the coordination to walk around in a costume. You could instead choose a fancy collar or a bandana for them to wear so they don't miss out on the fun.

A small brown Chihuahua is wearing a tie and hoodie

Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t just pop a costume on your pet and expect them to be fully comfortable right away. If you want your pet to wear a costume for a particular event you should purchase your pet's costume well ahead of time and practice putting on individual pieces, then rewarding your pet if they tolerate wearing it. Once they become comfortable wearing the individual pieces, try adding some pieces together and continue with the praise and rewards until they are wearing their full costume comfortably.

Keep That Collar On

Don’t remove your pets’ collar just because they are wearing a costume. If they manage to get away while wearing their costume, but no ID tag, it could delay the time it takes for them to find their way home to you.

A brown dog is wearing a navy blue handkerchief with the Captain America shield on it as well as a harness

Keep An Eye On Your Pet

Our final tip is to monitor your pet for signs of stress and anxiety. Even though your pet might have worn a costume before and been fine, they can suddenly become stressed and anxious while wearing their costume for a variety of reasons. A stressed pet will scratch or claw at the costume, may appear to be breathing heavily or panting, refuses to move or freezes when they are wearing the costume, put their tail between their legs, bark or growl or vocalise, hide from you or exhibit any unusual behaviour. If your pet appears stressed or anxious while wearing their costume, you should remove it immediately.

A pug poses for a photo wearing a shirt and a hat

We hope you all have a wonderful Dress Up Your Pet Day and be sure to use the hashtag #DressUpYourPetDay and share your photos on our Facebook post of your pets in costume!

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