The Yorkshire Vet: Should dogs be dressed in jumpsuits...?

I read an interesting piece in one of our veterinary journals this week. The column used to be called A Partner Ponders. Now, with the paucity of partners in general practice – which is a different topic altogether – it is open to any member of the profession who feels inclined to make an insightful or amusing comment.

This one was entitled A tutu too far (which I thought was an excellent title) and had a cartoon of a diva dog, paws on hips, looking into a full-length mirror asking, anthropomorphically, “Does my bum look big in this?” It was wearing the aforementioned tutu. The anecdote in the text recounted a pug called Princess who appeared for her appointment dressed in a tutu. And a tiara. And pink nail polish.

This was not an experience I was accustomed to, although Anne reports she did once treat a dog wearing a dress, to match the one worn by its owner. I read further into the article, which went on to relate a story of a dog wearing four yellow wellies. “Well, I don’t like getting my feet wet so why should my dog?” said the owner, apparently.

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As the vet was about the embark on a detailed explanation of the differences in functional anatomy between the canine and human foot, the lady added “I bought them on the internet. And you can get a matching hat.” At this point, the vet decided her explanation might be pointless.

Julian Norton, the Yorkshire Vet.Julian Norton, the Yorkshire Vet.
Julian Norton, the Yorkshire Vet.

The topic cropped up as Anne and I took our dog for a walk along the river at Bolton Abbey. We quickly concluded that clothes for dogs were becoming a thing. Post-operatively, for example, many dogs (and cats – and even once a ferret) are squeezed into suits that look like baby-grows. They fit snuggly, with arm holes and press studs near the tail.

The purpose is to prevent dogs (and cats and ferrets) from licking their surgical wounds. And they seem to work. Some dogs rock the look, walking casually and coolly into the waiting room for their post-op check. Cats (and ferrets) don’t pull it off with quite such aplomb.

Of course, I typed wellies for dogs into Google on my phone. Immediately, ridiculous images appeared, with confused-looking pugs and poodle-crosses sporting red, yellow or green wellington boots. They might look stupid (they do) but, goodness, they are sure to have dry feet. Evidently, it’s even possible to acquire a bright yellow dog mackintosh complete with sou’wester.

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Images appeared in a flood on my phone, with dogs dressed in waterproof attire of all types. In every picture, the dog looked dry but glum. I couldn’t help question the purpose of a rain hat for a creature which is predominantly horizontal, generally covered in weatherproof hair and unaffected by the trauma of a bad hair day.

After a coffee stop, our Jack Russell, Emmy, was as energetic as ever. She was warm, dry-ish and still very much enjoying her walk. Had the river not been in full spate, she would certainly have been swimming.

She had no canine raincoat, no wellies and no hat and scampered through puddles with impunity. We spotted one dog, a fluffy Cavapoo, outside the toilet block with an owner. Without any embarrassment, he stood patiently waiting, resplendent in a full yellow jump suit. There was a hint of the Freddie Mercury about him, with baggy, waterproof and slightly shiny leggings extending to his feet. My word, he looked snug, he looked dry, but by jove, he looked stupid. Luckily, I don’t think he cared how he looked. The debate continues…