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How to Safely Dress Up Your Pet For Halloween

Published on: October 26, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

French bulldog in ghost costume

Trick or treat! Some people just can’t resist dressing up their pets for Halloween. And many pets don’t even mind. Dogs, at least – after all, they’re pleasers by nature, and some doting pet parents dress up their dogs in cute-plus-functional sweaters, coats, and boots as a matter of course. Your cat, on the other hand, might be less tolerant, treating you to The Stare instead of accommodating the costume concept. Regardless, when it comes to Halloween costumes there are safety issues to consider because the outfits tend to be more decorative than functional. And while your pet may be the ultimate in couturier good sportsmanship, we know you always put your furry family's safety first. These tips will help you create a costume that won’t turn your pet’s Halloween into a ghoulish experience. For either of you. 

  • If you aren’t sure how your pet will respond to costuming, start early and start slowly. A knock-down-drag-out last-minute dressing tussle won’t put either of you in a fun frame of mind. So work up to it, trying on one piece of the costume first and then adding additional pieces later on. As with other learning experiences, praise and yummy treats will encourage your pet to love their costume. Or at least put up with it.
  • If your pet obviously is not up to it, settle for a festive bandana. Tell them you still love them, even though they don't look exactly like Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Costumes should never interfere with your pet’s ability to function normally. That includes seeing, hearing, breathing, moving, and heeding nature’s call.
  • Have a heart and skip the annoying details like dangling fringe or floppy hats.
  • Check for chewable decorations, etc. that could turn into choking hazards (or cause unpleasant indigestion).
  • Consider overall comfort – a lot of dogs and cats can even be frightened by tight-fitting garments. 

Collar and tags are the ultimate style touch, perfect with every costume and a must-have on Halloween. The last thing you want, or expect, is for your pet to run away from you, but the worst can happen when least expected. Triple-check to be sure your pet's collar and tags are securely fastened. And make sure your contact information is current and complete with their microchip registry. Without these things, the chances of a happy reunion are pretty scary. 

Other Halloween traditions are potentially frightful for pets, too

It only takes one mean-spirited individual to scare or otherwise threaten your dog or cat. Black cats, in particular, have long been the targets of Halloween tricks instead of treats, but the chaos of noisy, strange-looking groups coming to the door can make any pet turn tail and dart out the door. 

If your dog is properly outfitted, of a calm nature, and on a short leash under your direct control, they might have fun accompanying the kids on their door-to-door quest for candy. If not, in costume or not, give them the treat of a quiet space away from the door.  

What other Halloween treats can play tricks on your pet?

  • Candles in jack-o-lanterns and wagging or twitching tails are a recipe for singed pets or fires.
  • Candy is not good for dogs and cats. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and questionable for cats. Xylitol, a common sugar substitute, is highly poisonous to pets. Save the candy for the kids (OK, you can have some, too), and give your four-legged friend an appropriate treat as the evening winds down.
  • Glow sticks are tempting to chew and are generally not toxic but taste yucky. 

Whether you choose a pet shop costume or DIY a creation all your own, keep it safe and your pet might even enjoy Halloween as much as you do. After all, treats rule the night and who doesn’t like tasty treats? Just don’t overdo it.

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