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Spring Fashion! For Your Pet?

Pets wearing clothes? Is it just all good fun? As a holistic veterinarian I have witnessed and participated in the application of a variety of apparel to pets for therapeutic and whimsical reasons. Why do some people do this to their four- legged companions and how do these pets feel about that?

Our daily choice of attire certainly seems to have an impact on our mood. It seems to reason that a tight sweater or uncomfortable boots could run your dog’s day! After all, don’t many vet techs and pet guardians call the dreaded Elizabethan collar the “cone of shame” for a reason? Have you not seen the dejected expression worn by many a dog while it wears that confining neck piece? I remember many years ago when my handsome Golden Retriever was forced to wear an E-collar for one month to prevent him from licking his leg after radiation treatment. I prepared him in advance by telling him how special he was and how this “party hat” would make him the envy of the neighborhood. Marty trusted my opinion and wore the apparatus with pride! He never resisted placement and pranced around confident that his new adornment would set a new trend.

One of my many favorite patients, Lexi, wears a new outfit every time she visits! As it turns out, this is prescription therapy in addition to high fashion. Lexi is allergic to her mom! Allergy testing has demonstrated that Lexi is allergic to human dander. It is beneficial to Lexi, for medical reasons, that human family and friends do not touch Lexi’s skin. With clothes on, they can hug Lexi through her lacey tutu or her flannel jammies to their heart’s content.

Are you like me and LOVE shoes? Booties and sneakers for pets can be all the rage! My “grandson”, Dakota recently moved to Arizona. My daughter bought darling, expensive sneakers for his paws to protect him from the hot asphalt. Now he can continue the walks he so enjoyed when he lived up north! Similarly, many guardians of northern pets know booties are necessary foot protection to prevent salt irritation or lacerated pads during hunting.

Have you ever met a groomer who didn’t put bows on your pet? Certainly bows on my boys bothered me, but my new little girl poodle seems to love her Hello Kitty™ barrettes! Pets can generally manage to remove things if they don’t like them; an ugly bandage is a great example. So, if they leave on stylish shirts, pants and head gear does that mean they like them?

Animal Connections, Inc. Founder and local animal communicator, Carolee Biddle explains,” Smaller dogs enjoy clothing more than medium or large size pups. Some larger dogs say they love the attention they get when wearing clothes! Chihuahuas really appreciate a warm winter jacket. Some dogs have said get this darn thing off of me and don't leave that coat anywhere that I can get at it! One dog was specific. He wanted the blue coat with the blue collar. Another pet was always the runner up in the Valentine’s Day costume contest; he was joyful and proud the year he finally won!”

Peter B. Gray, Ph.D., an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada has said, “Young, childless couples or older empty nesters may be the most emotionally invested in a pet dog. Without a child around to tend to, what some call a fur baby can help fill that social gap.” These are the types of individuals, who according to the American Pet Products Association have spent over $50 billion annually in the U.S. on pet products. Americans spent about $375 million on pet Halloween costumes in 2012. The attitude that pets are children or family members and this financial trend in the pet industry will likely lead to more pets in clothes!

If you are in the category of fashion lover and pet lover, there is an upcoming event just for YOU! Fashionistas for Fur-babies will put models and pets in need on the runway together! See your favorite costume categories from glitz and glam to sports and service. Pets and people will strut their stuff to benefit dogs and cats! Just as professional humans need to wear uniforms, service dogs need to wear special vests to protect themselves or to let others know what they are doing. A police dog wears a bullet proof vest or a guide dog wears a vest with handles for the blind. We will honor these professionals on the runway as well! Sports celebrities will sign autographs too!

Visit to learn more about Fashionistas for Fur-babies to be held Sunday April 11 from 11am to 3 pm at the Marriot West in Waukesha. Don’t miss this opportunity for family fun, food and charity. Fashionable attire is preferred!

Jodie Gruenstern DVM CVA has been practicing veterinary medicine in Muskego, Wisconsin since 1987. She is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and food therapist by the Chi Institute. Dr. Jodie is the owner of the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex, an integrated, full-service small animal practice. For more info and healthy products visit or

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