“Trick or treat, bags of sweets, ghosts walking down the streets”…..Halloween will soon be here, and promises to be a howling good time for kids and many adults, but for your dogs…not so much. For most dogs, it is one of the most frightening days of the year, and the new trend to put your dog in a costume will only add unnecessary stress!… Pet stores are loaded with really cute outfits for your pooch, with sales of pet costumes soaring in recent years, growing by 68% last year, according to the National Retail Federation, and retailers say they see demand only increasing in the years ahead. Pet Smart points to the fact that it now carries 111 styles of pet costumes and accessories; it’s even starting to offer items for “small animals.” These are commercial ventures targeted for the enjoyment of humans, not the animals!

According to Pet Poison Helpline, emergency critical care and toxicology calls increase dramatically during the week of Halloween, making it one of the center’s busiest time of the year. One major reason for the calls is ingestion of costume parts, and average costs are documented as more than a thousand dollars. Dress-up is usually a major mess-up from a dog’s perspective; they are not excited about wearing a costume, and most, however “cute” they are, are uncomfortable, British Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strongly advocates against this fad, calling it annoying, and potentially dangerous, believing that legal action might be warranted for people who dress up their pets. Dogs aren’t “dress up dolls” or toys to play with, and if you are honest with yourself, you will probably admit that, even if your dog doesn’t fight being dressed up, she probably wants nothing to do with it, and it’s a huge relief once it’s off. My advice is FORGET DOG COSTUMES, but sadly, many of you have already bought your dog’s Halloween outfit, and many others will ignore my advice, so please make sure that the costume doesn’t restrict his movement, hearing, vision, or movement, and is safe and comfortable.

  • Most costumes are made of scratchy, cheap material which could result in your dog’s adverse reaction. If you notice her scratching while trying on the costume, remove it. An allergic reaction can cause an itchy rash, and possible infection.
  • Make sure the costume isn’t a tight fit. Tightness around your dog’s paws, legs, torso, or neck or tight elastic cords can pinch his body and cause a great deal of discomfort. The outfit should not constrict his movement, or hearing, and should not impede his ability to bark or breathe. Many of the ones that I looked at would hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous.
  • Check carefully for small or dangling accessories which 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 might think for him to overheat while all dressed up.
  • Be sure to try on costumes before the big night. Place it on the floor, let your dog sniff and examine the costume. After he examines it, drape part of the costume over his back…repeat this several times prior to actually putting the garment on him. Take it off and put it back on several times. If your dog shows abnormal anxiety or is distressed, please don’t force him to wear it. A colorful bandana would make for a happier dog.

It is our responsibility to make sure our dogs’ Halloween doesn’t turn into frightful nightmares.