One of the best things about Halloween is the socially acceptable chance to dress your doggy or kitty up as a little devil, pumpkin, witch, princess or hot dog. Though you might find them to be utterly adorable and a bit comical, your four-legged friend may not think the joke is all that funny. In fact, the costume may make them anxious, or even hurt them.“In general, tolerance of costumes is pet dependent,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Some pets will tolerate them, and others will not.”Though some pets are fine with getting dressed as a banana or lobster, others may be thoroughly bothered by their costumes. The only way to know, though, is to have your pet try the costume on. If he or she doesn’t like it, you’ll quickly know.
“If a pet isn’t comfortable in a costume, they may work vigorously to remove it, constantly scratching or pawing at it,” said Eckman. “It may affect the way they walk and move, becoming a tripping hazard, and can even affect their breathing, causing them to pant or become anxious.”
It’s also a good idea to do a test run with the costume to make sure that pets are completely comfortable with their costumes. Dress your furry pal up as a tiny, furry Derek Jeter or Superman, and leave them in it for a while. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t show signs of discomfort.
Pet parents whose furry friends are agreeable to wearing costumes still need to be cautious. Any small attachment that can be ripped off and swallowed, such as googly eyes or extra limbs, can quickly become a dangerous health hazard.
“Make sure that the costumes do not obscure their vision, do not block their nose or mouth so they cannot breathe, and that they do not trip over them,” advises Eckman. “Avoid anything that encircles the head or neck or that blocks their nose and mouth.”
Fur-coloring sprays are typically okay, but absolutely should not be applied near the pet’s eyes, and should also be double checked to ensure that they’re safe to be used on animal fur.
“Although some animals enjoy wearing costumes, it can be a very stressful situation to a lot of pets,” says Dr. Karen Kennedy of Guilford-Jamestown Veterinary Hospital. “Do a trial run with the costume first to make sure your pet is comfortable, before adding in the stress of trick-or-treaters coming to the door. The costume should not be binding or constricting, but also not too loose that your pet could get a leg caught in it. Also make sure there are no small pieces that could be chewed off and choke your pet. Lastly it is a good idea to make sure your pet has identification on them in case they should bolt out the door.”
Though every Christopher Robin needs a Pooh, every Batman needs a Robin, and every Han Solo needs a Chewbacca, you need to make sure your pet is okay with wearing a costume first. Otherwise, they’re not going to have a good Halloween.