Social media is flush with pictures and videos of cute dogs doing tricks or simply sitting adorably in a full fashion line all their own. Our chihuahuas have become more like family to us than anything ever before, and that shows in our desire to treat them exactly like little people.

This can get sticky however, when we cross a line between loving our pets like family and forgetting that they are also dogs. Many behavioral issues arise from people anthropomorphizing (or humanizing) dogs to such an extent that they fail them on their canine roots.

Dressing your dog isn’t necessarily going to fall in this category, but an understanding of canine behavior can help you decide what your dog wears and when. Let’s take a look at some reasons to wear clothing, and how your chihuahua might feel about it.

Great Reasons to Wear Clothing

Sometimes, clothing can help heal your pet or spare them from something they find unpleasant. Shirts can be used to help cover wounds that need to heal, protect stitches, or keep your dog from farther damaging a hotspot.

Using clothing in this situation can help keep your pet from going back to the vet to put stitches back in or because hives from an allergy were made worse.

Other practical reasons include helping keep your pet clean, dry, and warm when going on walks. Chihuahuas are fairly low to the ground and can kick a remarkable amount of mud and dirt up onto their bellies on an ordinary walk.

We start wearing shirts on our walks when this starts happening…

Even if your pet isn’t wild about clothing, they’re probably less wild about having a twice daily bath to get all that caked on mud off.

Specifically for our chihuahuas, cold weather is another important reason to consider putting a sweater on. Not every chihuahua gets cold in the snow, but for those who aren’t as thrilled about seeing a mountain of snow as others, a sweater can help them endure long enough to go potty.

Other valid reasons include using clothing to help make the dog feel secure, such as a thunder shirt during a bad storm, or for a short photography session or holiday—if the dog is comfortable with it.

When it’s not okay to dress up a dog

A dog looks angrily at the camera after being made to wear a pig costume.
It became evident Leia hates costumes at this time. We have not made her wear them again.

With so many great reasons to outfit your dog in a cute little t-shirt, when is it not okay? The answer actually depends on your dog. Not every dog enjoys putting clothing on for any reason. If your dog hates being dressed up, or feels uncomfortable by a particular costume, forcing them to wear it without a specific health reason isn’t nice.

Things like hats, costumes that are bulky or have things that hang off it, can cause your chihuahua to feel stressed or uncomfortable. In these situations, it’s better to skip the costume and either choose an outfit your pet likes or skip it entirely.

Any outfit you do put on your dog should fit properly, and not restrict your pet’s motion or cause your pet to trip from being too large.

Chihuahua Comfort Matters

Clothing and pets is a hot topic. Some people view any clothing, regardless of reason, as a bad thing. Some people think there’s no harm in forcing a dog to wear a costume, even if the dog is uncomfortable. In the end, you know your pet best.

If you and your chihuahua both enjoy dress up, letting someone interrupt your dog’s fun will rob you both of joy. If you’re making your dog miserable just for an Instagram photo, that’s also robbing your pet of joy.

In the end, we should know our pets well enough to know which it is they like.

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