It is impossible to ignore the fact that pet product marketers have latched onto another moneymaker for themselves—Halloween costumes for the dogs. The pet stores are loaded with really neat outfits, but the fact is that they are a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. (Estimates indicate that more than 70 million dollars will be spent on Halloween costumes for companion animals.) According to Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, emergency critical care and toxicology calls to the Pet Poison Helpline increase by 12 percent during the week of Halloween, making it one of the center’s busiest time of year. One major reason for the calls is ingestion of costume parts, and VPI documents that the average cost for treatment is more than a thousand dollars. Dress-up is usually a major mess-up from a dog’s perspective. Most pets prefer their “birthday suits” , and are not excited about wearing a costume, and most, however cute they may be, are uncomfortable, annoying, and potentially dangerous! As adorable as they are, it is easier than you might think for him to get tangled up, or become frantic, while all dressed up. My advice is to FORGET DOG COSTUMES, but I realize that many caregivers will not heed my advice… many of you have already bought your dog’s Halloween outfit… so all I can do is to admonish you to please make sure that the costume is safe, comfortable, and doesn’t restrict his movement, vision, hearing or ability to breathe.

  • Make sure any costume isn’t a tight fit. Tightness around your dog’s neck, paws, legs and torso, or tight elastics can pinch his body and cause a great deal of discomfort. The costume should not constrict the animal’s movement, or his hearing, and should not impede his ability to bark or breathe. Many of the costumes that I looked at would hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous.
  • Most costumes are made of cheap, scratchy material to which your dog could have an adverse reaction to it. If you notice him scratching while trying on the costume, remove it. An allergic reaction could cause an itchy rash, and possible infection.
  • Check to make sure there are no small or dangling accessories that she might chew off and swallow. Buttons, ribbons and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Some elaborate Halloween costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your dog’s coat, it is easier than you think for him to overheat while all dressed up.
  • Be sure to try on costumes before the big night. Place it on the floor, and let your dog sniff and examine the costume. After he examines it, drape part of the costume over his back…repeat this several times before you actually put the garment on him. Take it off and put it back on several times. If your dog seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal anxiety, please don’t force him to wear the costume. A festive bandana would make for a happier dog!

Marianne at ASPCA says, “Dogs have beautiful coats of their own, giving them individuality. Man-made coast should be put on animals for protection, when needed, not for the amusement of people. Animals are neither interested or laugh about such nonsense Perhaps we should be more concerned about their feelings, rather than our enjoyment. It is our responsibility to make sure our dog’s Halloween doesn’t turn into a nightmare!