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5 Tips for Pet Costume Safety

It’s that time of year where y’all are Pinteresting for cute Halloween costume ideas. Are you planning on going matchy-matchy this year with your cat or dog? Fun! For you at least. It may be a bit unnerving for your pet. Everyone and everything looks different — stranger, scarier — and your pet doesn’t necessarily know why.

Have you thought through how safe your pet will be in the cute Tin Man costume you just whipped up? Here are 5 things to consider regarding pet costume safety and if their dog or cat costume is a good fit:

  1. Choking

    • Anything with a lot of buttons or tassels may be a hazard for your pet. But that doesn’t just apply to your pet’s costume—be conscious of the accessories on your own Halloween costume. Small pieces can break off and be swallowed which poses a threat to your pet’s safety.

    • Any costume parts your pet ingests can be dangerous and cause intestinal obstruction or other issues. If your dog swallows part of the costume, call your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital to discuss whether your pet needs treatment. If your pet has trouble breathing or begins to vomit, seek medical care immediately.

  2. Visibility

    • Pets can get spooked easily—not necessarily due to an especially frightening costume, but rather if they can’t see everything around them.

    • This can lead to further stress or injuries, depending on your pet’s reaction. Try to avoid hats, wigs or any head gear that could fall down and cover your pet’s eyes.

  3. Stress

    • Trying to put dog costumes or cat costumes on your pet can sometimes amplify their stress and discomfort. Some pets might not think much of it, especially if the costume is lightweight, has only a few pieces and doesn’t obstruct the pet’s eyes, nose or mouth. Other pets may find it overwhelming and not tolerate the costume at all.

    • How can you know if a costume will ultimately stress out your pet? If you’re not sure, test it out by putting a small T-shirt on them first. You’ll know immediately by their body language. For example, it’s sweater weather for my Italian Greyhounds. They love fleece materials, but hate the itchy knit materials. Whereas my Greyhound gets super nervous when we put his raincoat on. He acts like it’s a punishment, when in actuality we are just trying to keep him warm + dry!

    • Stress signals: Some signs that they are uncomfortable might include pawing at the costume, attempting to remove it, shaking their body vigorously, nervous running, cowering, constant scratching, pinned-back ears or a tucked tail.

    • Another surefire way to know if a cat is stressed out by wearing a costume is if they freeze or fall over and don’t move at all. They aren’t a fainting goat. They just don’t like their costume.

  4. Fit

    • Make sure your pet’s costume is loose-fitting and doesn’t restrict their movements. In contrast, if a dog costume or cat costume is too loose, you risk them getting entangled and tripping while they walk. We are looking for a happy medium here, folks. It should be the Goldilocks of all fits - just right!

    • How well can your pet move in their costume? It should be easy to slip on the pet and give the pet full mobility. It should not be skintight. If your pet starts to show signs of shortened breath, heavy breathing or any other respiratory issues, remove the costume immediately.

    • Pay close attention to the fit around the neck and chest areas. If breathing issues persist, seek veterinary care immediately.

  5. Leash

    • Again, with the Wizard of Oz reference…just because Dorothy carried Toto in a little wicker basket doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your Toto on his dog leash.

    • Even the most tame, well-trained animal can get scared from all the hustle and bustle outdoors on Halloween. If not on a leash, a frightened pet could easily escape, and their costume could get caught on trees, bushes or fences. Your pet may get stuck or seriously injured in the process. It’s also good to be familiar with leash laws in your neighborhood. A proper leash not only keeps you and your pet safe, but also other pets and pedestrians out and about.

    • If your pet runs away, they could also be hit by a car, causing serious injuries.

Dog costumes or cat costumes that adhere to these pet safety guidelines should be safe for Halloween. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • For a simple dog costume that is sure to entertain everyone, you can try the Pet Krewe big dog lion mane. This costume is minimal, so it will not make your pet feel restricted, and it is sure to put a smile on people’s faces.

  • For small dogs or cats, there is the Bootique Teddy Bear Costume, which is great for pets who do not like full-body costumes. It only covers the front of your pet, but doesn’t compromise on being a great costume.

  • Before Halloween night, let your pet wear the costume around the house to get used to it. This will also let you know if the costume will irritate your pet’s skin or if your pet is allergic to the materials.

Happy Trick or Treating to you and your pet!