We’re celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet Day today (January 14). It may be the first time you’ve heard of such a holiday, but we’re sure you’ve thought about dressing up your pet at one point (if you have not done that already).

If you’re on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit, you’ve probably seen some of the cutest pets in their unique costumes. And if you’re on the creative side, you can probably come up with some ideas on your own.

Are there any rules on dressing up your pets? What are the added benefits, aside from looking cute as a button, to putting on a pet costume? Here’s a guide to making sure your pet stays comfortable while decked out in fashionable clothing.

Why Celebrate This Day?

Fur parents have their own way of indulging their pets. For most, buying a set of clothes for their fur babies is one way to show the world how much they love their pets. On National Dress Up Your Pet Day, however, there’s more to just making our furkids wear adorable outfits.

This day was founded by Colleen Paige, a celebrity pet lifestyle expert and animal advocate, as another way to promote pet adoption and as a fun way to give more attention to our pets. Additionally, pet parents go all out on indulging their lovies on this day by:

1. Celebrate the unique personalities of their pets – Humans use clothes to express themselves so it’s not too surprising for us to choose outfits that match our pets personalities as well.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

2. Add spice to an otherwise normal day – We all know that our pets’ lives can be pretty routine. Eat, sleep, play, repeat. Preparing for dress up day gives you and your pets a chance to break away from that routine and have loads of fun.

3. Bond with other pet lovers – When it comes to indulging pets, you won’t be alone! Just go to your local dog parks and you’ll find people with the same interests as you have. And if you have been drowning in work and haven’t had much time to bond with your pets, now’s the time to make up for that!

4. Support their favorite sports teams – Rooting for your local basketball team or your state’s football team? Pet owners show their support to their favorite teams by donning matching sports outfits with their pets.

5. Be in matching, fashionable outfits with pets – When it comes to matching trendy outfits with pets, Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde always comes to mind. With her iconic clothes and her fashion-forward dog named Bruiser tagging along, who could ever forget Elle Woods? To tell you the truth, we think Bruiser is one of the best-dressed dogs we’ve ever seen on screen!

6. Engage in an oh-so-cute photo op – What’s a dress-up day without photos to remember the fun moments? Don’t let the preparation go to waste without a memento from this wonderful day. Indulge in a professionally done photo op! Not only will you have a picture to display on your desk, but you can also use the photos for your personalized Christmas cards as well.

Basic Rules in Dressing Up Your Dog

Who wouldn’t fall in love with dogs who are all decked out in their adorable costumes? Whether it’s just a simple, personalized bandana or an elaborate tutu, it’s important to remember basic rules when it comes to sprucing up your pets.

Prepare Your Pooch

Some pets get right into the groove with a costume and strut like they own the runway. Don’t expect all dogs to be tolerant of wearing costumes though. Some furkids may have apprehensions of that strange-looking material in your hands. Gradually introduce the costume to your dog by:

  • Allowing him to sniff out the costume on his own
  • Rewarding him with treats
  • Laying the costume on his back without fastening it
  • Putting the clothes only when he’s up for it

Costumes look and feel strange to our fur kids. So, make sure not to freak them out by forcing them to wear apparel that they’re not comfortable with. Another ingenious way to introduce costumes to your pets is to start with accessories like collars and bandanas.

Your Pet’s Well-Being Comes First

No matter how cute your pet might look in certain apparel, resist the urge to buy costumes that cover your pet’s eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Whiskers shouldn’t be hidden as well. Avoid costumes that have tiny accessories that can easily pose as a choking hazard.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Avoid apparel that has buttons, ribbons and other small parts that they can easily chew off. Make sure your pet’s costume fits just right — not too tight and not too loose either. While glow bracelets might seem like a good idea to incorporate into their costumes, it’s best to avoid them as well.

If you’re planning to bring your pet to a public place at night, make sure to buy reflective clothing and accessories or buy reflective tape that you can attach to their costumes.

Observe Your Dog’s Reaction

Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

While most dogs won’t complain about being spruced up, it’s still important to gauge their reaction after putting on their outfit. Just because they’re not whining, it doesn’t mean that they’re not distressed about the costumes. Here are the most common signs your dog is not happy about dressing up:

  • Lowered head
  • Heavy panting
  • Hiding or slinking away from you
  • Shaking
  • Licking
  • Ears are pinned back
  • Flat Whiskers

Make sure that your dog is not uncomfortable with his costume. Remember that the experience should be enjoyable, not only for you but for your pooch as well!

Tips for Choosing the Right Costume

Now that you understand the basic rules in dressing up your dog, let’s go over some useful tips that will make National Dress Up Your Pet Day a wonderful affair to remember.

Just a loosely-tied bandanna and a cute hat and your pup’s good to go!

1. Keep it simple. When it comes to dog costumes, less is more. The more elaborate the apparel is, the harder it is for your pooch to get used to clothes.

2. Have fun dressing up. Hold that temper! This day shouldn’t be stressful for both owners and pets, so make sure to make this as enjoyable as possible by remaining calm and patient with a lot of gentle coaxing and smiles.

3. Avoid hair dye. Colors are fun, but not when they pose as a danger to our furkids. Human hair dye, even if the label says it’s organic and safe, is not intended for animals and should never be used on them. Although food grade dyes are relatively safe, it’s just best not to use any at all. (insert photo)

4. Get Matching Outfits. Why don’t you join the fun and dress up as well? This is the perfect time to go twinning with your dog! You can wear matching sweaters or go all out with glitz and glamour like what you see during the New York Pet Fashion Show.

An adorable bunny costume goes well with an Alice in Wonderland costume. (Photo Credit: Chewy)

5. Keep the weather and season in mind. If you are dressing your pet up during the holidays and National Dress Up Your Pet Day, you don’t have to worry too much about the heat and humidity as it’s still relatively cool. However, if you’re planning to dress your pet up all year round, make sure to keep the clothing material light and airy during summer. (insert photo)

Five Easy Costume Ideas For Fussy Dogs

We all know that some dogs absolutely hate the feeling of being restricted with clothing. Forget about elaborate costumes that will make your pet grumpy. Downsizing is the only way for finicky pets! You can still let your fussy furbaby enjoy the fun with these quick and easy costumes:

1. Bow Ties – Let Mister Rover look like a proper gentledog with cute bow ties that you can make by yourself. You can easily choose the right fabric and colors that will suit your pet’s personality.

2. Bandannas – Think bandannas are boring? They don’t need to be! Buying them off the shelves is fine, but not when you can make some with unique prints and designs such as a reversible dog bandanna.

Cute as a button with a DIY Floral Collar (Photo Credit: Modern Dog Magazine)

3. Collar Flowers – If you love doing things from scratch, you’ll love making lovely collar flowers for your dog that are not only super easy and quick to make, they’re perfectly beautiful for special occasions such as weddings. Get creative with floral collars that you can easily attach to your dog’s collar.

4. Friendship Collars – Show your pooch that he’s your favorite BFF with DIY friendship collars made from paracord. If you have kids, enlist their help in making this accessory. Don’t forget to make a bracelet for yourself as well. Paracord bracelets or survival bracelets are often used by people who love adventure and have proven to be quite useful in a variety of situations in the wild. You never know when you’re going to need them while hiking with your dog.

5. Embellished Collars – Bring out the sparkle with a collar decorated with shiny, shimmery faux gems and crystals. Embellished collars are perfect for canine royalty! When making this beautiful dog collar, make sure to let the adhesive dry completely. This may not work for everyday wear especially if you have an active dog, but you’ll surely have a royal collar in store if the occasion calls for it.

Other Ways to Celebrate National Dress Up Your Pet Day

We know it’s not easy convincing your pet to dress up for the occasion and it’s perfectly fine. After all, the day is not just for celebrating the adorable costumes we can come up with for our pet. Here are other ways to have fun on this special day:

Let your pet celebrate National Dress Up Your Pet Day with his best pals in the neighborhood

1. Volunteer with your family and friends at the local shelter. You can clean cages and empty litter boxes, help feed the animals, provide transportation and a lot more! Just ask the staff at the shelter on how you can lend a paw and they’ll guide you in the right direction.

2. Throw a doggy party. Celebrate the joy that pets bring into our lives with an awesome party at the shelter, in your neighborhood, or at the dog park.

3. Ask for donations. Get on social media and let people know in your community that you’re setting up a fundraising or donation drive for the local shelter. You can ask for harnesses and leashes, dog and cat food, cat litter, toys, blankets, and even old crates.

Got room in your home and heart? Celebrate this special day by adopting from the local shelter.

4. Take photos. If you are a professional photographer or know someone who’d like to volunteer his or her time and talent, set up a photo shoot to help shelter dogs find their forever homes.

5. Foster a pet. Got an extra room for a dog or cat? You can open your home to a temporary pet and open up a “spot” at the shelter. Many animals get turned away from shelters because of lack of space and fostering is a great way to ensure there’s a space for one more.

We hope you’re having fun choosing the best costume, dressing up your pet and celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet Day in your own creative ways. Running out of costume ideas? Don’t worry, we got you covered. Check out our Pinterest board for some of our personal favorites!