Halloween is a time for candy and, of course, cute costumes. And while you may not be able to share a Snickers with your four-legged pal, there’s no reason why you can’t celebrate the holiday by playing a little dress up with one of the season’s array of pet-friendly costumes. “Dogs are family, and should be treated as such…and that’s why it’s so important—and fun—to incorporate them into our human celebrations,” says Angela Marcus, co-founder of Get Your Pet.
According to Dr. Whitney Miller, director of veterinary medicine, one of the biggest trends in recent years has been the humanization of pets — from celebrating holidays together to purchasing pet health insurance and assuring they eat nutritious foods to dressing them up in cute and funny costumes for Halloween. “Pets are an extension of ourselves, so we want to ensure they get the very best care and love from us,” she adds.
However, there are some costume guidelines you’ll want to follow as you get your four-legged friend into the Halloween spirit later this month.
- Safety First
Unfortunately, some of the things that make Halloween fun for humans can make the holiday scary for pets—from the candy and décor that can be dangerous if consumed to the loud noises of parties, confusing masks and costumes, and, of course, constantly ringing doorbells. That’s why it’s important to take steps to ensure that your pet remains safe and secure this Halloween—and that starts with choosing an appropriate costume for your pet’s age, size, and activity level. “Pet parents should also make sure that the costume isn’t getting caught or tangled in fur, and is not restricting to breathing, motion, panting, or drinking,” Miller adds.
Along with throwing the best Halloween party in the neighborhood, always be sure to keep your pet’s safety at the top of your priority list. No matter how cute the costume is, pet owners still need to adorn their pooch with proper identification, like an ID on their collar and microchip, so if for some reason you’re separated on Halloween night it’s more likely that they’ll make a speedy return home. “Also be sure never to leave your pet in a costume unattended for their safety,” Miller adds.
- Consider Their Comfort
When choosing their Halloween garb, it’s very important that your pet is comfortable and safe in their costume, so pet owners should start by making sure it isn’t too tight or restricting, that it’s not covering their eyes or face, and it’s not preventing them from walking around normally. It’s also a good idea to slowly acclimate your pet to a costume, especially if they’re not used to dressing up. “Don’t force them into it, and try using positive rewards like small treats as you put the costume on to ensure they associate the costume with a positive outcome,” Miller advises.
As much as you want to celebrate the holiday with your pooch, depending on their individual personality, may want to consider leaving them home in a comfortable, stress-free space for the night to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed by all the strange sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday.
- Check the Weather
While your human child may not mind either over- or under-dressing on Halloween night for the sake of their costume, your dog most certainly will. Be sure to consider that evening’s temperature when it comes to selecting your dogs costume; a sweater-style costume may be fine for a cooler evening, but if you live in a part of the country where Halloween temperatures rarely dip below 70 degrees, you may want to opt for a festive bandana instead of a full costume. “Your dog will be more than happy to celebrate with you in any way you choose,” Marcus concludes.