Halloween is a Nightmare for your Dog!

Scary costumes, spooky music, and chocolate treats all make Halloween lots of fun—for people, but those same things can create frightening and stressful experiences for your animal companions. The noises, trick-or-treaters at the door, and people in weird costumes can stimulate even the calmest dog to become fearful or aggressive.

Halloween dress-up for your dog has given pet stores and on-line pet supply sites another lucrative opportunity to make money, and every year I remind people that this is a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs who prefer their birthday suits rather than cutesy costumes. Dogs are dogs; they do not need to be dressed up– most are not thrilled about wearing a costume and , however adorable they may be, most are uncomfortable, annoying, and potentially dangerous. It is easy for her to get tangled up, or become frantic, while all dressed up. My advice is always to FORGET DOG COSTUMES , and spend a few bucks on a safe toy–maybe a new Kong– that your dog will enjoy for months to come. If, however, you are determined to see your dog in a Halloween outfit , please consider these tips for keeping him safe , and hopefully stress free.

  • Make sure the outfit doesn’t restrict his movements in any way. Tightness around your dog’s neck, paws, legs, and torso, or tight elastics can pinch his body and be very uncomfortable. He’ll have to walk, run, and take potty breaks, so the costume needs room in the legs, and not get in the way when nature calls.
  • Keep in mind that your dog is probably not used to a costume, so don’t leave him dressed up for an extended period of time. He could get uncomfortable and irritated enough to shred the costume or even lash out with a bite or scratch.
  • The costume should not restrict his sight or hearing, and should not impede his ability to breathe or bark.
  • As cute as they might be, some elaborate costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Consider the temperature, and your dog’s coat to be sure that the outfit is not too heavy for the weather.
  • I browsed through a costume section, and it was obvious that many of them would most likely hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous. Many of them also had small dangling accessories that the dog might chew of and swallow. Buttons, ribbons and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Most costumes are made from cheap, scratchy material to which your dog could have an adverse reaction, possibly causing an itchy rash, and possible infection. If your dog tries to scratch and rub the outfit off, please forget it.

It is important to have a couple dress rehearsals prior to the big night. Let your dog examine the outfit before you put it on him. Place the costume one the floor, and allow your dog sniff it…then drape part of the costume over his back, repeating this process several times before your actually put it on him. Take it on and off several times, and if your dog is distressed, allergic or shows abnormal anxiety, please don’t force him to wear it. Animals want desperately to please their caregivers, but we need to be concerned about their feelings, rather than our amusement. It is up to us to make sure that our dog’s Halloween doesn’t turn into a nightmare.