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Owners who dress dogs in clothing may see their beloved pooch as human, researchers say

Owners who dress dogs in clothing may see their beloved pooch as human, researchers say

  • People who saw pets more like people more likely to want to buy pet fashion
  • Those who indicated they would soon buy dog ​​an outfit had higher attachment
  • This meant they were more likely to have a picture of their dog in their wallet

Dog owners who dress up their pets in outfits may have to accept their love has got out of hand, vets warn.

A study suggests that pet owners who do so, such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, may see the animals as almost human.

Researchers asked 326 owners about their feelings towards their dogs and if they would buy fashion items for them.

They found people are more likely to buy them an outfit if they show signs of seeing the dog as human.

Researchers wanted to understand why people buy clothing for dogs, so conducted a detailed online survey

These include celebrating the pet’s birthday and giving them nicknames like ‘baby’ and ‘sweetheart’.

Study co-author Dr Patrick Hartmann, from Spain’s Basque Country University, said: ‘For retailers, this knowledge could help them profit by offering matching outfits for people and dogs.’

However, vet Lynne James, of charity PDSA, said: ‘Our pets don’t always share the same joy – they can feel uncomfortable and unable to move freely.’

The booming pet industry is predicted to see people in Britain spend more than £2 billion on pet products and services by next year.

These include grooming, ‘pet spas’, specialty food and fashion.

Researchers wanted to understand why people buy clothing for dogs, so conducted a detailed online survey.

To judge if the 326 dog owners saw their pets almost as human they asked how much they agreed with a set of statements including ‘my pet understands everything I say’, ‘I like celebrating my pet’s birthday’ and ‘I like giving my pet affectionate nicknames like ‘baby’ or ‘sweetheart’.’

The booming pet industry is predicted to see people in Britain spend more than £2 billion on pet products and services by next year.  These include grooming, 'pet spas', specialty food and fashion

The booming pet industry is predicted to see people in Britain spend more than £2 billion on pet products and services by next year. These include grooming, ‘pet spas’, specialty food and fashion

People who saw their pets more like people were more likely to want to buy fashion clothing for their dogs.

As a result, the researchers suggest, retailers might do well to sell dog clothing which looks more human, such as skirts, trousers and accessories.

The dog owners, from Australia, were asked if they planned to buy any fashion clothing for their pet in the next two months, and how likely they were to buy these products in the near future.

Those who indicated they would soon buy a dog outfit also had higher levels of attachment to their pet.

This meant they were more likely to have a picture of their dog in their wallet, for example, or felt closer to their pet than to their family or many friends.

Responding to the research, published in the Journal of Business Research, Malcolm Morley, junior vice-president of the British Veterinary Association, said: ‘Most owners consider pets a part of the family, which is great, but we should remember that pets are not fashion accessories.

‘Owners should be aware that inappropriate anthropomorphism such as dressing up dogs or otherwise unnaturally changing their appearance is not only unnecessary and potentially harmful, but in some cases can also prevent pets from expressing their natural behaviours.’

He added: ‘With rare exceptions, dogs don’t need to wear clothes as they already have a thick fur layer to keep them warm.

‘Only dogs with thin fur such as greyhounds and whippets or older dogs may need a coat to keep them warm during winter walks.’

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