10 Tips for a Safe (and Fashionable) Halloween With Your Pet

2010-10_hot-dogIt used to be a novelty to see pets in costume, but it now seems standard for spirited pet owners to include their dogs (and a few cats) in Howl-O-Ween celebrations. So what are the newest Halloween trends for pets and how can their costumed caretakers ensure the safety of their four-footed friends?

The important thing to remember is to make sure your pet is a happy, willing participant in the festivities and to always keep safety in mind. Once those criteria are met, let the fun begin!

The world of fashion in 2010 is completely over the top. And, just as popular fashion trends found at runway shows influence our Halloween costumes, this year’s fashion and pop culture fads provide inspiration for pets to take on new personas for the holiday.

Here are my predictions for the top Howl-O-Ween costume trends of 2010:

  • Lady Gaga— While the pet counterpart of Lady Gaga’s controversial meat-dress wouldn’t last long, the demand for Lady Gaga’s outrageous style, unique fashion statements and wild hair-do’s are sure to make their way into pet costumes.
  • Vampires — Inspired by the Twilight saga and True Blood series, today’s vampire differs from its menacing Victorian ancestor. Still wan and, in our case, literally fanged, the canine vampire is mysterious and always well-dressed.
  • 1980’s Comeback — Eighties style is back with a vengeance, so expect this year’s Howl-O-Ween ensembles to feature plenty of the big hair, leggings, bright neon colors, lace or sequin gloves, and acid-washed denim iconic of the Michael Jackson and Material Girl era.
  • Hit TV Shows — Pet owners might easily transfer the distinctive looks of MTV’s popular reality show Jersey Shore onto unsuspecting pets with Snooki’s leopard mini-dress, a bumpit or Pauly D-gelled wig, or a “Situation” muscle-tee.  More traditional Mad Men-inspired costumes make for great retro-pet styles.
  • Movie-inspired— Hollywood is always a rich source of inspiration for Howl-O-Ween costumes.  Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3, Avatar and Alice and Wonderland costumes are sure to populate this year’s pet parties, but Darth Vader and Yoda costumes and superhero capes remain perennial favorites.
  • Think Pet-cessories!  With more and more pet owners incorporating their pets into party plans, it’s easy to have your favorite furball become part of the costume. The classic DIY pairings of Dorothy and Toto, football players and cheerleaders, and Batdog and Robin never go out of style. 
  • Beyond Costumes — There are more Halloween-related pet products on the market than ever. Pet-owners are able to pick up great items—such as designer “bone” bandanas—that not only work for Halloween but will last all year.

While many pets actually enjoy dressing up and carousing about with their owners, some pets may be frightened, or stressed at best. Here are some ways animal lovers can keep their pets safe this Howl-O-Ween:

  1. No tricks, no treats. That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms can be very dangerous for dogs and cats, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed. If you suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (a fee applies).
  2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset when ingested by pets.
  3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pet. If your pet nibbles on them he could damage his mouth on shards of glass or plastic, or receive a life-threatening electrical shock.
  4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.
  5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” wearing a costume can cause undue stress.
  6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure his costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict his movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, see bark or go potty.
  7. Keep a look out for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could chew and choke on.
  8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
  9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside. If your dog gets anxious when the doorbell rings, wait for trick-or-treaters at the front door or on your porch.
  10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can help ensure he is returned to you.

Written by:
Kristen Levine, Pet Lifestyle Expert

October 14, 2010

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