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New Haven Pet Hospital

Pet Costumes: Super Cute or Super Dangerous?

Girl Lying Down Playing with Golden Retriever (Dog)

October 6, 2022 by New Haven Pet Hospital Staff


It’s hard to imagine that pets can get cuter than they already are, but Halloween always proves that they can. There are tons of costume choices out there, and the ones sold at pet stores can provide a false sense of security (they are, after all, designed for pets to wear).

Pet costumes might not look like they’d endanger pets, but there are known hazards to dressing them up. A heightened awareness of the risks of pet costumes is essential to a safe, memorable holiday. 

Safe and Tolerable

Before we dive into what’s safe, and what’s not, it’s important that your pet feels a sense of control over the costume. If they feel that you’re forcing them to wear it, it’s only a matter of time until they start to show signs of distress. You can tell when your pet feels safe and comfortable. They appear relaxed, calm, and ready for action. 

An anxious or fearful pet will start to whine or whimper, hide, cower, and shake. Remove their costume and offer praise, treats, reassurance, and affection to calm their nerves. 

If you are able to give them lots of time to accept their costume, the better off they’ll be on Halloween. Never force them to get dressed up; instead, make it a fun, rewarding experience. 

Special Considerations

Once you’re sure that your pet’s costume doesn’t present any restrictions to their movement, vision, hearing, ability to stand up, turn around, sit down, and go to the bathroom, you still have work to do. 

Some pet costumes may have accessories or easily-removed pieces that pose choking or strangulation risks. Be sure your pet cannot easily chew pieces off, swallow, or get stuck inside of. Sequins, bells, or other items can present GI obstructions if accidentally ingested. 

Anything intended for the neck, such as a tie, bow, or bandanna, ribbons, or scarves, should only be worn under supervision to reduce the risk of entanglement. 

Other Items

Depending on your Halloween plans, there are ways to boost pet safety. If you plan on trick or treating, be sure that you and your pet are brightly dressed or in reflective fabric. There are LED collars, leashes, and vests for your pet.

Since a high number of pets go missing on or around Halloween, be sure that your pet is always safely connected to you. Your pet’s microchip is best when contact information is up to date. 

Halloween Pet Safety

Sometimes, pet costumes are simply good for a quick photo opportunity before removing it. As many pets find them uncomfortable or confusing, it’s never good to force them to wear it for longer than a few snapshots. Over time, they may grow tolerance for pet costumes, especially if it’s a positive, rewarding experience for them. 

It’s a Maybe on Pet Costumes

When wondering if a pet costume would go over well with your pet, the answer is…maybe. We recommend perhaps not investing in a really expensive costume until you know for sure they’ll be tolerant of it.

If you have questions about pet costumes, or concerns about Halloween pet safety, please give us a call at (260) 493-3739. Our veterinarians and staff members look forward to helping you at New Haven Pet Hospital.