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Halloween Pet Costumes: Safety Guidelines

9 safety tips to remember if you dress your pet in a Halloween costume.

Halloween Pet Costumes: Safety Guidelines

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s SUPERDOG! Costumes aren’t just for people. Pet owners love spreading the Halloween fun by dressing their four-legged friends up as superheroes, scary ghosts and famous celebrities.

Tiffany Donhauser Thomas, a mother and pet owner, who works in a veterinarian’s office in Florida, says that she dresses up her Pyrenees mix on a regular basis, as things like a lobster, Batman and hockey fan.

But while pet lovers often enjoy dressing up their dogs or cats in what they think are cute costumes, many don’t realize their pets may not appreciate it as much as their owners. Some pets really do love dressing up and goofing off for the camera and costumes often don’t cause any issues. But whether big or small, it’s always important to keep your pet’s needs first.

“The most important thing to consider when dressing your pet up for Halloween is safety,” says Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital.

If you do decide to dress your pet up for Halloween this year, here are nine safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Be Aware of Stress
    Dr. Murray highlights this as one of the major factors against dressing a pet up. “Watch out for any signs of stress or anxiety when you put a costume on your pet. If your pet hates her costume, don’t force her to wear it! A nice orange bandana or bow tie is a happy alternative to a full-fledged costume.”

    If you have a pet that dislikes wearing items of clothing and acts impatient, annoyed, uncomfortable or unhappy, it could cause serious problems for your furry friend.

  2. Don’t Limit Movements or Senses
    “It’s crucial that any pet costume does not limit the animal’s movement, hearing, sight or ability to breathe, bark, eat, drink, urinate or defecate,” says Dr. Murray

  3. Beware of Choking Hazards
    Ribbons, frills, bow ties or other loose items around your pet’s neck might cause issues if it gets stuck. Always watch for these kinds of items and any potential choking hazards, like hanging beads or pieces that might fall off.

  4. Stay Comfortable
    If you notice something bothering your animal — scratchy material, too-tight shirts, swinging beads, floppy hats — adjust the costume.

  5. Keep a Pet’s Head Free
    You wouldn’t want a too-big hat covering your eyes or annoying beads hitting your face as you walk, so don’t put your pet through that.

  6. Choose a Bright Color
    Your pet should wear brightly colored clothing, so oncoming vehicles or other people know it’s there.

  7. Keep Your Dog Close
    In crowded parade settings or areas heavily trafficked by trick-or-treaters, keep your dog on a short leash and don’t lose sight of your pet.?

  8. Know That Less is More
    Don’t overpower your pet with too many clothing items. If your pet seems too uncomfortable, stick to a simple ribbon or bandanna instead.

  9. Display Proper ID
    Always make sure your cats and dogs are wearing tags, especially during this time of year. “Halloween can be scary for our pets, and if a pet gets loose, they are much more likely to be returned back to you if they have an ID,” says Dr. Murray. Use a collar, tags or even a microchip to be assured your pet will find his way home.

There are so many options for pet owners to choose from at so many shops, but, when it comes to dressing up your pet, keep these safety tips in mind.

Jennifer Eberhart is a freelance writer in New York City. Her work can be found here.