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Pet Halloween Costumes: Safety Comes First

It’s time to celebrate Halloween frights and delights with trick-or-treating and costume parties! Are you going to make your furry family member part of the party too this year?

Halloween costumes aren’t just for people. We’ve all seen the photos of hot dogs and pirate cats on social media. Plenty of people spend a scary amount of money on Halloween costumes and accessories for their pets. In fact, in 2018, pet costume sales hit a record $440 million!

While some pet owners enjoy dressing up their pets, many don’t realize their pets find the attire uncomfortable. If you want to include your canine companion in this year’s Halloween festivities, here are some pointers to keep in mind when choosing a costume to keep him or her safe — and avoid a potential trip to the emergency veterinary hospital.

Test First

Consider trying out a small T-shirt, socks, or a baseball hat on your pet. You’ll find out pretty quickly if they’re likely to tolerate a costume BEFORE you spend a lot of money on something that just may not work. Some signs your pet is uncomfortable might include:

  • Pawing at the costume
  • Attempting to remove it
  • Shaking the body vigorously
  • Nervous running
  • Cowering
  • Constant scratching
  • Pinned-back ears
  • A tucked tail
  • Cats who are stressed by costumes may freeze or fall over and not move at all

Safety Considerations

  • Make sure your pet’s costume fits properly and is comfortable. A costume should allow your dog to move naturally, breathe normally and open his or her mouth. Too tight or too loose costumes are uncomfortable.
  • Avoid small dangling embellishments like bells as part of the costume. These can be annoying and even scary if they move or jingle as your pet moves. Also, your dog may be tempted to chew off and possibly swallow such things, with a risk of choking or obstruction.
  • Choose only those headpieces that allow unobstructed vision, hearing and breathing. Many masks aren’t comfortable for people to wear – and we choose to put them on! A sudden loss of vision or an inability to breathe normally is scary for pets. Use caution with hats, headgear, or wigs that may fall down and obstruct your pet’s eyes.
  • Have your dog try on his or her Halloween costume before the big night. If he or she seems distressed or shows any abnormal behaviors — such as the whites of the eyes showing more than usual, ears pinned low, tail tucked or cowering — remove the costume immediately and try a festive bandana or collar instead. In some cases, your dog may tolerate being dressed up long enough for you to take a quick photo, then remove the costume. Let your dog lead. It’s mostly about the photos anyway, right?
  • Even if your pet doesn’t mind a costume, be sure to supervise while he’s in one. Supervision can avoid accidents, injuries, and overheating.
  • Add reflective material to your pet’s costume. This is particularly important if your dog will join in the trick-or-treating jaunt around the neighborhood. You want your pet visible to passing cars to help reduce the risk of an accident.

A costume is an essential part of any Halloween plans. By using a little extra care when choosing one for your pet, you and your family — including your four-legged family member — can enjoy the festivities!

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