The majority of the time, the answer is no. Some sewing machine functions (darning, quilting, thick fabrics, thread painting, embroidery) need the feed dogs to be down, but for the most part, sewing a seam requires working feed dogs to move the fabric through the machine at the precise timing to form a perfect lock-stitch. When there are no feed dogs, it's like trying to sew with chopsticks--you can do it, but it's going to take a lot of work and be very inaccurate.
Here are some other things that should be considered when deciding whether or not to get sewing machines for pets:
Do animals have a sense of beauty? If so, are their sensibilities akin to humans'? These questions must be answered before you purchase sewing machines for pets. There are those who believe that animals lack a sense of beauty and are incapable of feeling pain, while others claim that animals can feel pleasure and pain just like people do. No one really knows for sure how animals react to physical stimuli such as touch, sound, and sight. However, what we do know is that animals tend to follow their instincts, which in most cases means they will try to escape something that feels wrong or hurtful.
If you decide to go ahead with this idea, be sure that you buy sewing machines for pets that are comfortable for them to sit on.
Every sewing machine and manufacturer utilizes a unique way for moving the feed dogs up and down. Most modern sewing machines contain a switch for lowering the feed dogs. Some quilters hide feed dogs that cannot be lowered with plastic or even playing cards. Others use clear tape to keep them down. Still others use hook and loop fasteners such as Velcro.
When lowering the feed dogs, always remember to raise them back up again. This will prevent your fabric from getting torn out when feeding the needle into it.
Feed dog maintenance is very important for keeping your sewing machine running smoothly. If your feed dogs are not being used or are broken, have your local sewing center supply new ones. This is also an easy job for someone who knows what they are doing!
Lower the presser foot and restart sewing if the fabric is not feeding properly. Another reason the machine may not be feeding fabric is that the feed dogs (or feed teeth) are not correctly engaged for stitching, so ensure sure they are properly engaged. If the stitch length control is set to "0," the machine may also refuse to feed cloth. This should not happen unless the top is closed down completely.
If your machine has a button for selecting a thread, make sure it's set to "auto" rather than "hand." If the bobbin is empty, the machine will stop stitching until you drop in a new one. Be sure this is done with all bobbins, including those in back-up modes.
If your machine has a clutch, release it before starting to sew. This will prevent your needle from being pulled into its housing when you lift the presser foot.
Check that the bobbin case is full; if it's not, there may not be enough thread on the bobbin to reach the bottom of the pattern. Check too that the bobbin thread is not tangled. If it is, pull it out and start again.
Don't use any kind of lubricant on your sewing machine. It will reduce its lifespan.
Don't throw away hand-sewn items without first trying them on. Most patterns include sizing charts, so check these against yourself before you begin.