13 Safety Tips for Your Pet’s Halloween Costume

Cat and dog on Halloween

Admittedly, in the past, Petswelcome has sometimes dissed Halloween costumes for pets. That’s because whenever we dressed them up, it didn’t look like they were having as good a time as we were. It all seemed a bit demeaning, as if the laughs were on them. But, hey, we’ve mellowed with age and realize that Halloween is truly the best holiday of the year and, as with everything, enjoying it with your pet can make it even better. You just need to be smart about it. And that means following Petswelcome‘s 13 safety tips for your pet’s Halloween costume.

Dog in costume
Not loving the costume…
  1. Watch for Signs of Stress or Anxiety

Halloween costumes often produce anxiety in pets. The best way to prevent that is to observe their reactions and mood after you’ve dressed them up. Some pets have a high tolerance for costumes and clothing while others are uncomfortable with even the smallest garment or accessory. If your pet is in the latter category, don’t force the issue and adjust your plans accordingly. That doesn’t mean you have to stay home and watch Seed of Chucky on TV (although that would be awesome…).  You can still go trick or treating together.  We’re sure, costume or not, he’ll still get rave reviews.

  1. Test the Costume Before Halloween

Even if your pet is generally okay with wearing a costume, it’s a good idea to put it on ahead of time to get her acclimated to it. Give her a treat and play with her while she’s dressed up and she will associate good feelings with the costume. It’s a great way to nip any Halloween night anxieties in the bud .

dog in simple costume
Simple and sweet.
  1. Keep it Simple

Of all the safety tips for your pet’s Halloween costume, this one yields the best results.  Often when people dress up their pet (or even themselves) for Halloween, the prime consideration is the Wow! factor. And that makes sense. There are few comments in the English language as deflating as, “That costume is boring.” Nobody wants to hear that and so they shoot for the stars, often without thinking about their own, or their pet’s, safety. Keep it simple with as few accessories as possible that might prove hazardous to your pet. Remember, brevity is the soul of wit. Apply that rule to your pet’s costume and you’ll be in for a very fun and rewarding day.

dog with big costume

  1. Keep it Light and Cool

Speaking of overburdening,  it’s great to create a whole tableau around your pet with one costume. That type of costume has become very popular as of late. But if you’re having trouble knowing where your pet starts and ends in the costume, you might want to reconsider. Think of the weight of it and/or how your pet is totally engulfed, perhaps without proper ventilation. If you want your dog to be Freddy Mercury, he doesn’t need to be wearing Wembley Stadium.

  1. Make Sure it Fits

I’ve never bought a Halloween costume that actually fit. And I’m a human. Halloween costumes purchased in stores, in general, do not necessarily adhere to known standards of size, integrity or construction.  So make sure it’s not too big so that it snags, drags or trips up your pet. Equally important is that it’s not too small and impedes breathing or creates blisters, raw patches or other irritations.

Dog in costume
Make sure your pet can move freely.
  1. Make Sure it Allows for Full Mobility

It’s important that your pet can move as easily as if it were not wearing a costume.  Animals are, above all, very physical creatures and if their movement is impeded it can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. Also, not being able to move freely or quickly can slow down reaction time and subject them to potential physical injury.

  1. Avoid Accessories That Largely Cover Your Pet’s Head

Obviously, animals rely on their senses and if they are hindered in any way by a costume, it will make for a bad experience. Especially avoid costumes or accessories that could block fresh air. Or ones that might reduce vision and hearing. Even partially covering the eyes could be dangerous. It’s important that they have full peripheral vision to be able to see potential hazards that are not directly in front of them.

  1. Make Sure Your Pet is Dressed for the Weather

For most of the country, the weather on Halloween can be unpredictable. It might be warm, cool, or outright cold. If you’re taking your pet outside in a costume, be sure to check the forecast so that he’s dressed accordingly and doesn’t overheat or get chilled, for example, from wearing a wet costume in the rain.

Dog in fireman costume
Bright and reflective is good.
  1. Dress Them in Bright Colors or With Reflective Accessories

If you’re taking your pet trick-or-treating at night, be sure that she’s wearing a costume that can be seen clearly in the dark. Bright colored costumes and/or reflective tape, collars, or leashes will help ensure on-coming vehicles or other potential hazards will easily be able to spot her.

  1. Avoid Costumes with Small Pieces They Could Choke On

Try not to choose a costume for your pet that has a lot of small pieces or accessories. There’s a good chance that if it falls off or gets near his mouth, he will try to munch on it which could lead to potential choking, nausea or internal blockage.

  1. Never Leave Them Alone

When wearing any type of clothing, pets are much more vulnerable to getting snagged on something or being the victim of  potentially harmful “wardrobe malfunctions.” They could also get into trouble if they wander near heat sources or other potential hazards. If your pet was nice enough to allow you to dress it up without biting or scratching you—or hightailing it to the next county when you pulled the costume out of the box—then honor that trust and never leave him alone while dressed up.

man with halloween mask
Why is my dog freaking out?
  1. Don’t Freak Your Pet Out with Your Costume

If I put on anything on my head other than a baseball cap, my dogs get freaked out. If I’m wearing a hood or they see me in my wide-brimmed fly-fishing hat, they often start barking at me because I do not look like my regular self. Imagine how a Halloween costume or mask might affect them. Get your pet accustomed to your costume as well as their own and you will significantly lessen the tension and anxiety on Halloween night.

dog with sweater
Big Dog on Campus
  1. Choose or Make a Costume that Can Be Worn Other Times of the Year

This is less a safety tip for your pet’s Halloween costume than it is commonsense. Why spend big bucks on a costume that only will be worn one day of the year? Buy pet clothes—or even better, make your own—that can be incorporated into a costume but also be worn again for more utilitarian purposes. For example, use a sweater and dress him up as a Preppy or Big Dog on Campus. And then, when the next cool day rolls around, you’ve got him covered.

All of us at Petswelcome would like to wish you and your pet a very scary (but safe) Halloween!

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