Do you accessorize your pet? Some pet parents can’t imagine sticking to the basics. They have a treasure trove of sweaters, kerchiefs and blinged-out collars for their pets. Many other pet parents don’t get why people think dogs need rain coats or “all that other stuff.” I’m somewhere in the middle. Saturn, my cat, has a great little breakaway collar with a beautiful turquoise print and bell. Unfortunately, she’s figured out the breakaway thing and does whatever she can to get it off, so I don’t suspect that other accessories would go over well. Growing up, we had three rat terriers who shivered away through cold weather and rainy days. They each had sweaters to keep them toasty and dry. One winter, we even experimented with booties to keep their tender little paws from sinking into the snow. For me, some of the pet accessories out there are just silly. I refuse to believe that a dog should stroll around in pants, or that a cat needs a wig to be fabulous. Did you know that there’s a company that manufactures stickers to cover up your pet’s unsightly “under-tail” area? That level of accessorizing is just weird to me. But even I have to admit—accessorizing your pet can be pretty cute, and it can certainly be beneficial. For pets with short, thin, limited or zero fur, sweaters, jackets and shirts can be a pet essential year round. In the summer, a thin shirt will cover your pet, preventing sunburns. In the cooler months, a sweater will keep your pet warm, even when the weather outside is frightful. Do pets need rain coats? It’s up to the pet owner, but as I said before, I’ve found them useful. A good rain coat will cut down on the amount of water that makes it on your pet’s fur, ensuring your pet won’t feel cold and wet after a trip outside. That keeps your home’s interior dry, too! Decorative collars, leashes, harnesses and muzzles can be a nice way to make your pet look stylin’, and perhaps help you feel more comfortable using them. I always felt awkward trying to slip my guinea pig’s little legs into her harness jacket, but the resulting cuteness and ability to lead her on a leash was well worth the careful effort. Shoes and booties? They have benefits for pets who have tender paws and pads, or pets with injured feet. The trouble with pet shoes is that most pets simply won’t tolerate something foreign clinging to their foot. My parents’ rat terriers shook their booties off in no time flat! I’ve seen pet sunglasses, hats and visors. Unless your pet has a particular eye or skin condition that necessitates extra sun shielding, I consider these items purely decorative. Most pets are adapted to deal with sunshine just fine. Pets that aren’t meant to be outside in full sun shouldn’t be taken out at all, even with these sun shields. With any pet accessory, it can take some time and training for your pet to get used to their new wardrobe. Be patient with your pet. Trying on new accessories can be confusing and strange to a pet who isn’t used to getting dressed up. If your pet reacts negatively, don’t force the issue. Make sure getting dressed is a positive experience. For our rat terriers, putting on a sweater for the first time was more welcome to them after they went outside. With practice, your pet will be more cooperative. If you want to jump on the pet accessory bandwagon, go ahead! Just consider what function your pet accessories could serve and whether the accessory will be a bother to your pet. A good pet accessory conveys your pet’s personality to the world, but shouldn’t make your pet uncomfortable. Have fun trying this trend!