By Amanda Harper
I love pet costumes. About one-third of my excitement each year for Halloween is getting to see dachshunds dressed up like hotdogs, bulldogs with super hero capes, iguanas with top hats, Chihuahuas with bowties, kittens in lab coats... I LOVE pet costumes, and I’m hoping some of you will humor me this year by dressing up your companion pets so I can make sounds of joy so high-pitched, they don’t even register to human ears (it’s okay, Fido will hear my glee.)
If your pet has never dressed up in a costume before, getting him acclimated to the process can be a little tricky. If your pet wears a jacket or sweater with no trouble, a costume that wears like one will likely be easiest.
Headbands, glasses and booties tend to be more bothersome to pets that aren’t accustomed to being accessorized. If you’re sold on a costume that depends on an accessory that your pet doesn’t typically wear, it’s best to start getting her used to the item early. Buy the costume well in advance of Halloween (or Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Valentine’s Day, or her birthday, or Chanukah, or... well, any occasion!) Put the costume on your pet and see what she tries to shake off. A few times a week, put the accessory on your pet for a couple hours. With time, she’ll probably tolerate wearing it. The week before the big event, put it on your pet each day for an hour or so.
But what if your pet really hates putting on a costume? Some pets just aren’t party animals. Don’t force the issue. Find a Plan B that gets your pet in the spirit without getting your pet in a foul mood, like a seasonal collar or collar accessory, like a bow or bell.
There are some items you should avoid costuming your pet with. First, nix anything you wouldn’t give your pet to chew on–bits and baubles he can swallow or choke on should be out of the question. Second, avoid paints, dyes or temporary spray hair coloring. These often contain chemicals that just aren’t pet safe. Thirdly, ensure that it’s a costume intended for your pet. Choose a costume that’s intended for your pet’s size and type. Finally, consider how the costume might limit your pet’s movement, hearing, vision or ability to eat, bark/meow or drink water. For instance, an eye patch may complete a pirate costume, but it may cause confusion, dizziness or impaired depth perception! If you’re unsure, ask your vet for advice.
The most important thing to keep in mind with pet costumes is that it’s meant to be fun for everyone involved. Choose a costume that’s mindful of your pet’s comfort and the comfort of everyone around you, as well.