In 2015, Britons spent more than £4.6 billion ($7 billion) as animal lovers spoiled their pets with beauty treatments including but not limited to purchasing designer outfits. It was a record-breaking number and an increase of 25% since 2010. On the bigger scheme of international scale, total spending for pet outfits reached more than $100 for the first time last year.
Unlike in the US where dog lovers are much more liberal when it comes to dog fashion, the trend of dog outfits UK specific was pretty much restricted to functional fashion such as jackets or winter clothing for dogs. This trend, however, started to change drastically as US-based pet store did massive marketing campaign with the launch of movie-themed pet accessories especially Star Wars in 2013. Now pet owners are increasingly treating dogs and cats as beloved members of family. A sense of humanization to pets is growing among animal lovers, and the market is taking great commercialization advantage from that. By “humanization”, its means every pet owner thinks of their pet as personal accessories, substitute for a child, and extension of themselves. Such train of thoughts triggers the necessity to dress the pets so they can reflect the owners’ personalities.
RSPCA Takes Notice
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is observing this trend with special attention. The society even warns pet owners that animals are not accessories and clothing can restrict movement. It is safe to say that RSPCA worries that people treat their pets simply as toys and choose any random clothing without paying attention to possible risks of great discomfort for animals and suffocation. It is worth mentioning that dressed-up dog may trigger other dogs to behave aggressively.
There is, however, a complicated problem concerning pet outfitting. An animal is a living thing; it has the capability of emotion and thinking. Animals are aware that something is being done to them; it applies not only to pet outfits, but also medical treatment, feeding, etc. A dog is aware that a collar is in its neck; it can either resist or tolerate such treatment. Chances are the dog will tolerate as long as the unnatural accessory does not restrict their ability to perform normal tasks for examples running, urinating, sleeping, eating, and more. If the dog does not struggle to take the clothes off, then there is no welfare issue that requires RSPCA involvement.
Bottom line, it is perfectly fine to dress up your dogs, cats, and other pets as long as you choose the clothes very carefully and always give thoughtful considerations before purchasing them. Styles and fashion statements are important, but your dog’s comfort and welfare should be your priorities.