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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
"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
"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
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
"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
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
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Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843
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