Dog welfare at Xmas

Cheap Christmas dog costumes go up in flames in as little as one second

Forget decking the halls...

This year everyone seems to want to deck the dog.

With the discovery that searches for ‘Dog Christmas Outfits’ increased 70% on average in the last week, we decided to test 10 Christmas-themed costumes and accessories from eight retailers, including Pets at Home, Amazon, Sainsbury’s, and Matalan.

What we found will shock you

Several of the dog costumes in our experiment ignited after exposure to an open flame in as little as one second. Full outfits were completely destroyed in as little as 1 minute and thirty seconds.

One outfit from InTheStyle’s LadBaby Mum collection bought from Asda was completely engulfed, almost burning our tester after just 40 seconds, to the point where it wasn’t deemed safe to let it continue to burn.

Plastic fibres from a Pets At Home Christmas Pudding costume continued to burn after falling off and melted through the plastic water bucket being used to catch destroyed items safely.


Jump down to read our guide:

"Dressing your dog up - the dos and don’ts"


Just see for yourself:

YouTube video

Three outfits only featured fire safety warnings on the packaging, which would be thrown away so the outfit could be worn. A further three outfits came with fire safety warnings on both the packaging and the outfit label.

Most concerningly, three out of the ten outfits - two from Amazon and one from Sainsbury’s - featured no fire safety warnings at all.


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Dog Xmas Costume Flame Test Results

Outfit 1: Christmas Tree Cape (0:50)

Retailer: Amazon
RRP: £9.99
Fire warnings present: None
Ignition time: 1 second
Burning time: 1 minute 49 seconds
Outcome: Significant damage

Outfit 2: Mrs Claus dog costume (1:18)

Retailer: The Range
RRP: £5.99
Fire warnings present: Packaging and label
Ignition time: 5 seconds
Burning time: 55 seconds
Outcome: Minor damage

Outfit 3: Snowman Dress Up (1:31)

Retailer: Pets At Home
RRP: £8
Fire warnings present: Packaging only
Ignition time: 1 second
Burning time: 4 minutes 30 seconds (one side of the costume was destroyed in 2 minutes)
Outcome: Completely destroyed

Outfit 4: ‘I Ate All The Turkey #NoRegrets’ jumper (2:39)

Retailer: Aldi
RRP: £4.99
Fire warnings present: Packaging and label
Ignition time: 7 seconds
Burning time: 1 minute 35 seconds
Outcome: Completely destroyed

Outfit 5: ‘This Dog Loves Christmas’ hoodie (3:04)

Retailer: Asda (LadBaby Mum for InTheStyle)
RRP: £12
Fire warnings present: Label only
Ignition time: 6 seconds
Burning time: 25 seconds fully alight; 40 seconds it had to be put out as was too dangerous to continue burning
Outcome: Inconclusive due to forced safety stop, but it likely would have been completely destroyed

Outfit 6: ‘I Ate Santa’s Cookies’ Festive Pet Hoodie (3:53)

Retailer: B&M
RRP: £6
Fire warnings present: Packaging and label
Ignition time: 5 seconds
Burning time: 1 minute 15 seconds
Outcome: Significant damage

Outfit 7: Santa costume (4:15)

Retailer: Amazon
RRP: £15.99
Fire warnings present: None
Ignition time: 5 seconds
Burning time: 50 seconds
Outcome: Minor damage

Outfit 8: Reindeer Jumper (Recycled Yarns) (4:31)

Retailer: Sainsbury’s
RRP: £16
Fire warnings present: None
Ignition time: 5 seconds
Burning time: 1 minute 45 seconds
Outcome: Completely destroyed

Outfit 9: Santa Dog Jumper (4:57)

Retailer: Matalan
RRP: £9
Fire warnings present: Packaging only
Ignition time: 2 seconds
Burning time: 2 minutes
Outcome: Completely destroyed

Outfit 10: Christmas Pudding Dress Up (5:27)

Retailer: Pets At Home
RRP: £8
Fire warnings present: Packaging only
Ignition time: 7 seconds
Burning time: 4 minutes 40 seconds (inside padding fully alight after 40 seconds, burning from the inside out)
Outcome: Completely destroyed (costume and safety bucket!)


Increased risk of fire hazard isn’t the only reason pet owners should think twice before dressing up their dog this Christmas. Costumes can increase dogs’ stress and anxiety levels, as well as irritate skin either due to highly processed fabrics or allergies.

With this in mind, our experts have also put together a short guide (below) on how to avoid these festive faux pas this Christmas.


The Experiment

Outfits were sourced from popular high street and online retailers, and supermarkets in the UK that appeared on page one for Christmas dog costume related searches. All outfits were chosen at random from the selection available in store and online during the last week of November and first week of December 2022. To allow for fair comparison, outfits bought were advertised as Medium, with the exception of the Aldi jumper which was a Large.

Filming took place in controlled conditions, with a stopwatch tracking both ignition and burning time. A Cricket firepower lighter was used to mimic a candle flame. The video is produced without prejudice and made as a way of highlighting the ongoing discussion around dog outfits.

Heidi Maskelyne, CEO of ProDog Raw

“Dogs and fire safety in the home is certainly not a new topic but as we head into the festive season it appears owners need to be hyper vigilant if they choose to dress up their dogs as part of their Christmas celebrations.

“While dog hair and fur, like human hair, can ignite quickly if exposed to open flames, it doesn’t burn for long. When reviewing the videos the very fast ignition time of some items was concerning, but most horrifying for us at ProDog Raw was the speed at which whole outfits were engulfed in flames, with the plastic fibres in many of them creating a sticky residue which also continued to burn. Removing that from a dog if it did catch fire would be very dangerous for them and their human, and could do serious damage.

“As a nation of dog lovers we of course want them to be included in our celebrations, and we know how easy it can be to be caught up in the Christmas spirit and want to snap a cute photo for Instagram. But we hope by highlighting the very serious risk these unnecessary outfits pose to man’s best friend, owners can make safer, more informed choices this Christmas.”


Dressing your dog up - the dos and don’ts

Costumes and clothing for dogs are nothing new - whether it’s a novelty pair of antlers for fun at Christmas or a custom jacket to keep them warm in winter’s depths, it’s a huge market and something many owners will have at least considered at some point.

But what are the dos and don’ts around dressing your four-legged friend and what about the impact it can have on their mood, and even their relationship with you? World-renowned dog trainer and behaviour expert, and ProDog Raw ambassador Kamal Fernandez has helped us put together this guide so you can make the most informed choice.

Dressing your dog for practical reasons

There are plenty of practical reasons when it can be necessary to dress your canine companion, says Kamal. These can include post-operation, for warmth and to potentially reduce anxiety. But it’s important to do your research first and make sure you’re making an informed choice.

Double coat or single?

“One thing you have to remember is that not a lot of domestic dogs were bred to live in the UK’s climate,” said Kamal. “Items like jackets and coats for warmth are perfectly fine in lots of cases, but make sure you know if your dog is single-coated or double-coated.

“If you put a jacket on a double-coated dog it’s essentially like you wearing two, thick winter jackets.”

Examples of double-coated breeds, where a winter jacket is likely to be less necessary, include Huskies, German Shepherds, Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Single-coated breeds, likely to benefit much more from a winter jacket, include Dachshunds, miniature pinscher and Greyhounds.

If your dog is a mixed breed or you’re not sure what kind of coat they have, you should be able to tell in a couple of different ways. Firstly, through grooming - if your dog is shedding soft, downy fur when you brush them, it’s likely they are double-coated. Secondly, give their coat a good feel - a double-coat will feel more padded and thicker, a single coat will feel more like you’re touching their skin.

Post-operation and avoiding injury

If your dog has had to go under the surgeon’s knife at all, then appropriate clothing can be a great way in some instances to make sure the healing process goes smoothly.

“Dogs will almost always lick or nibble at things like stitches, so using an old vest or something similar to cover up surgical wounds is a great way to make sure they heal properly and without interference,” said Kamal.

Protective dog socks can be a good idea too if your pet is likely to be exposed to particularly abrasive surfaces or has cut its paws.

To reduce anxiety

Several dog jackets exist which claim to help calm anxious pets and reduce stress, particularly around events like fireworks displays and thunderstorms. How effective they are very much depends on the individual dog, Kamal says.

“If you think about what you do to calm a baby, you cuddle them and swaddle them, and it works a lot like that with some dogs that suffer stress and anxiety. A close-fitting jacket can help with that, but it’s really important that you get them used to it over time and don’t just throw it on and expect it to work, or for your dog to be happy with it from the go.

“The same really goes for introducing clothing to your dog for any reason, do it slowly over time to get them used to it.”

Dressing your dog in novelty costumes

From Christmas reindeers to panda suits and even minions - there’s a novelty dog costume for just about any occasion. It’s very much a personal choice, but Kamal says there’s a few key things to be aware of - particularly around the signs and signals your dog is giving off - before you snap that pic for Instagram.

Does it fit and is it safe?

“I would personally always want to be sure anything I’m dressing my dog in is tailored to fit them properly, but it’s probably not likely that’s always going to happen with shop-bought costumes,” said Kamal. “But try and get something that’s at least reasonably close to their size - they shouldn’t be restricted in their movement, nor tripping over something far too big.

“You should really make sure it’s not flammable too - particularly around Christmas and in winter when fires will be on and candles lit, it could be disastrous.”

Is your dog giving you subtle signs?

You might think you know when your dog’s unhappy with something, but it’s not always that obvious, says Kamal.

“I actually think a lot of people probably don’t recognise some of the signs from their dog that they’re stressed or anxious,” he said. “They can be really subtle, but it’s so important to look out for the signals.”

Key signals that your dog’s not enjoying things can include:

  • Excessive licking of lips
  • Big wide eyes
  • A closed mouth
  • Being frozen still and not moving
  • Hunched shoulders

Finally, don’t push it if your dog’s not happy. Kamal said: “There’s potentially a long-term impact if you keep dressing them and they don’t enjoy it, and that’s the erosion of their confidence and trust in you - it could really affect the relationship.”