Halloween Costumes for Your Pets
By Dr. Bruce Little
Pet costumes have become a universal fad during Halloween with as many as 17% of pet owners purchasing costumes for their pets. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), it is estimated that pet owners will purchase more than $300 million worth of pet costumes and jewelry this Halloween. If you dress your pet in a costume, be sure that it doesn’t interfere with the pet’s ability to breathe, see, hear, move or bark. The clothing that makes up the costume for Halloween can present problems for pets if not managed properly. Strings and tassels on costumes can become play toys for cats and puppies. Cats especially like to chew on these items and may get complications from the dyes in the clothing or intestinal blockage from swallowing the strings and buttons. Glow sticks that make up part of the costumes of children during Halloween are fine; however, the material inside the glow stick is caustic and can burn the mouths of dogs and cats that bite into them. It is important to keep these items out of reach from your pet. Halloween can be a fun and enjoyable time for all family members, including the pets if certain precautions are taken. Don’t put a reluctant pet into a Halloween costume. Some pets don’t mind a few Halloween accessories, but don’t force an anxious animal into an outfit. Always make sure they can see, hear and breathe freely.
Approximately one in seven people who dress up and celebrate Halloween include costumes for their pets according to a survey sponsored by the National Retail Foundation’s (NRF) 2015 Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey. Most have already purchased their costume for their pets this year, and the most popular costumes appear to be little round pumpkins for both dogs and cats. Other favorite costumes for the little furry ones are Star Wars and cute yellow Minion outfits. And it isn’t at all uncommon for pets to be adorned with princess outfits that were worn by the real Princess in the family in years prior. There is always a wide array of homemade pet costumes that might include top hats, sunglasses, bows ties and jewelry. Other popular pet costumes include hot dog outfits, Batman, Bumble Bee and an assortment of other characters of the past and present.
Another popular item this year is sports paraphernalia such as Dugout Jackets, Hockey Jerseys, Game of Thrones characters, Frog Prince Hats and Political candidate lookalike outfits. All these costumes come in various sizes to fit the size of your dog or cat properly without encroaching on the pet’s ability to navigate properly. Fitting the right costume is very important for the well-being of the pet. Many of these costumes can serve as both a Halloween costume and a sweater that can be useful in cooler weather climates for the daily walks. Be sure to give your pet occasional treats when wearing a Halloween costume to make him more willing to cooperate during the celebration. Halloween is a family event and it makes good sense that the furry family member would dress up for Halloween as well and participate in the fun. Just make sure you protect them from harm.
It is imperative that the pet, dog or cat, has proper identification in case they do break the barriers of the house or yard. I prefer that all pets be microchipped with a standard chip inserted by a veterinary professional and the information regarding the pet’s name and contact information be kept updated with the company registry database. Also, if your dog is going to accompany you as you trick-or-treat, be sure to purchase reflective collars or body gear for both pets and people. Each year people and pets are hit by vehicles walking on dark streets and at dark intersections. If the pet is going to have the opportunity to go outside during Halloween, it is also best to have a collar with identification information immediately accessible by neighbors and the people who are celebrating Halloween. Many times Halloween revelers will return a dog to their lost parent if the identification tags provides proper information.
Halloween is a time for all family members, including our pets, to be a part of the costume celebration. This is great fo both human family members and pet family members if the right precautions are exercised.