Halloween pet costumes: How to keep your pets safe and comfortable

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Petsmart Halloween costumes
Bees, pumpkins, hotdogs and lions are just some of the costumes available at Petsmart.

If you plan on dressing up your dog for Halloween just for the fun of it or to take your pets out to local pet costume contests or other pet costume events, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:

1) Avoid impulse buys of cute costumes before you are sure they will fit. Oftentimes, it’s difficult to tell in the store or by looking at a picture online whether you have the right size. A costume that is too big can twist around and spook a pet or constantly fall off, while a too-tight costume can cause a pet discomfort, or simply not fit and end up being a waste of money.

Before you start looking for a pet costume, to help find the right fit, take some measurements with a tape measure of your dog’s (or other pet’s) length in the following ways:

•from neck to tail,

•width at broadest point around stomach,

•and circumference of arms at the shoulder and at the “wrist” before where paw is (in case the costume has sleeves).

And, also weigh your pet because some costumes are categorized simply by pet weight.

dog shark costume and dog SCUBA diver costume
Even stores that aren’t specifically for pets, such as Michaels, offer pet costumes, such as this shark costume and the SCUBA diver costume.


2) Take your pet’s temperament into account. Some pets don’t mind being dressed up. Others hate it. Most are somewhere in between. If your dog, or other pet, is in the first category, you have a wider variety of costumes to choose from.

For pets who don’t so much like to play dress-up, keep it simple. There are a lot of costumes that are only one piece that are still really cute. We bought this doggie cheerleader costume from Amazon a couple years ago. As you can see, it’s simple but still definitely says “cheerleader” without a lot of extras. It can also be dressed up a bit, however. The pompoms that slip on the legs are optional.

Doggie cheerleader costume with pompoms for a medium-size dog.

3) Use special caution when it comes to the animal’s head. We’ve seen a lot of costumes involving hats, hoods or headbands with attachments.

If your animal is used to wearing hats, a costume with one should be no problem. But, you might quickly find that a dog or cat that has never had a hat or headband on it before isn’t going to start on Halloween.

Most animals instinctively prefer to have their eyes and ears unobstructed in the event of any dangerous or interesting new sights and sounds. If your pet seems annoyed or scared, it’s probably a good idea to forego the headpiece and let your pet enjoy the festivities in partial costume.

dog wearing dinosaur hat
Caramel wearing dinosaur hat but only because we bribed her with a treat.

For more on Halloween safety for pets, here’s a list of general tips from the ASPCA.


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