RSPCA says we shouldn't be dressing up our dogs in costumes this Christmas

Dogs in Christmas costumes

WARNING: The following article contains pictures of dogs in outfits and hats.

Be honest, the sight of a Jack Russell hopping across someone's bed in a Santa's little helper outfit on Facebook does make you crack a smile.

Why wouldn't it? Well, according to Dr Samantha Gaines from the RSPCA, the dog isn't smiling, or in on the joke.

"The RSPCA certainly doesn't want to come across as party poopers, we don't want to come across as the fashion police either," she says.

"For some dogs being in a costume can be particularly scary, or worrying, especially if there are bits on the costume that the dog isn't used to that are flapping around."

Pepper
Image caption Pepper (owned by Newsbeat's Jonathan Blake) sporting a bit of festive wear

"Dogs use signals to tell us what they're feeling, they use their ears, their tails, body positions and their eyes.

"If we start to cover those up it makes it very difficult for them to communicate with us and other dogs."

Samantha claims it's a seasonal problem, typically around Halloween and Christmas when distressed animals appear online.

"In some costumes where they're completely covered we can't see how they're feeling, and that in itself is a cause for concern.

Chili
Image caption Chili looking particularly dishy in this Turkey number - courtesy of Newsbeat's Del Crookes

So what if you briefly put a turkey hat on your pooch for that amusing photo? Apparently that's not OK either.

"Putting a hat on a dog still restricts its ability to tell you how it's feeling. The RSPCA's general position is not to put costumes on dogs."

But fear not, what with it being winter and all... it appears dog coats still have a role to play.

Pepper
Image caption Here's Pepper again, this time with a high-visibility jacket after a dip in the Lake District

"If you've got a particularly old dog, a young dog that is ill or particularly short haired, and more susceptible to the cold in winter, then yes, we would expect and hope that people put on an item of clothing like a coat to keep that dog warm."

In short if it can still use tail, head, ears and show its body position, you're OK.

Monty
Image caption Our social media producer Felicity Morse insists Monty the Italian Greyhound (in the latest winter-wear) is toilet trained

So if you can't give your pet that complete Chrimbo look, the charity has come up with some, if slightly obvious, advice.

In a statement it suggests "playing a fun game or going for a walk" with your pet.

Christmas will never be the same.

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