Pet Halloween Costumes: Cute or Scary?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 12:00pm

With Halloween just around the corner, you might be tempted to make your cat or dog a star by dressing him up in the cutest mini-sized costume you can find. But wait—is trick-or-treat apparel really safe for your furry friends?

Our experts suggest putting your pet in a costume only if you’re sure he will enjoy it. Some pets love the limelight: wearing a costume and posing for pictures is a blast! Others prefer to stick to their birthday suits for all occasions, and being dressed like a pumpkin for their pet parents’ amusement can cause unnecessary stress.

If you decide to have your pet wear a costume, here are some helpful safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Your pet’s Halloween garb should not constrict his movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Be sure to try on costumes in advance—and if your furry friend seems distressed, you’ll want to ditch the mini-pirate hat and vest.

  • Examine your pet’s costume and make sure it doesn’t have any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

  • IDs, please! Make sure your dog or cat has proper identification on underneath that cute costume. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost during Halloween festivities, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver.

For a complete list of animal safety guidelines for this spooky holiday, check out our expert Halloween Safety Tips for pet parents.

Tell us: Are you planning to dress up your pet for Halloween?

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Putting a costume on my kitty would stress her out, and I would certainly end up with some unnecessary scratches and bites. I would rather leave her the way she is. I like her that way. She has a beautiful coat of fur, which is enough for both of us.


I have a Manchester terrier and she loves her sweaters. She gets cold pretty easily so I have no problems with putting a pretty sweater on her. Painting their nails pet perfume and colored sprays I have issues with. Silly and frivolous if you ask me.


My old dog Bear, a lab/pit mix (passed at the ripe old age of 17) was perfectly happy to be dressed up. He went as a pig one year, when I was fostering 2 pot bellied pigs and I went as a farmer with the three of them and my niece's...then when my daughter was 5, she was a "diva" and he was dressed up as her body guard, and another year he was Scooby to her Velma...Not to mention how much he just loved the attention he would get while she dressed him up in a t-shirt, skirt, name it. He'd hold his head up high and walk around in the outfit until I took it off. Now my current dog Harley, a full APBT, isn't too keen on the whole dress up aspect...except for when it's cold, he LOVES his jacket, or when swimming...he won't go in the water without his lifejacket on. But when it comes to playing dress up, he's just miserable, so we've put a stop to it. Some dogs do love the act, and others hate it. I don't think there is anything wrong with it as long as you pay attention to your pet and make sure that he/she is comfortable. I don't think it's fair to judge someone because they dress their dog up...unless you can see that the dog hates it. As far as dressing my cat up...I can't even think about trying that! The only thing she will wear is a harness and leash to go for a walk with Harley...yeah, I know, not normal, but what are you going to do?

Patrick Oliver

Pets in costumes are so cute!

Cindy Sherman

As an ARA, animal rescuer & VEGAN for 23 years, I have to add a comment. So, here it is: PLEASE, if you want to help animals, teach by action & NOT preach kindness to animals, DON'T CONSUME THEM, WEAR THEM, OR BUY PRODUCTS THAT EXPLOIT THEM! Putting costumes on your dogs is NOTHING compared to the animal suffering you contribute to by consuming animal products. Educate yourselves, or remain hypocrites.

Laura Thurman

My 2 labs love the extra attention.. We have attended the Purina One Canine Carnival that benefits the APA in St Louis the last 2 years. Both years my girls have come in first place in the costume contest! They will go to Petsmarts contest next week--they are anticipating another win...woof

Lea Collins

I'm more of a middle-of-the-road type when it comes to costumes for my cat and dog. The cat gets a jester collar (orange and black with bells for Halloween, and red and green with bells for Christmas) and the dog gets a one-piece pajama-type shirt with a pumpkin or skeleton on it for Halloween, and a Santa coat for Christmas. I put them on, snap a couple quick pictures, them off they go and back in the drawer til next year. Ten minutes of confusion, admittedly, but I think they look adorable... Plus they're like, my kids, and who doesn't dress up their kids for holidays?! I see nothing wrong with putting costumes on animals as long as the animal is okay with it. Mine seem to know that it'll be over soon and they bear it with that "Seriously? This again?" face, then go to their beds and sleep.

Pet Lover

I cannot believe how some people talk so ugly to others simply because they like to dress their pets in costumes! My dog loves her coat, but won't tolerate a costume. If she would wear a costume as comfortably as she does her coat, you can bet your sweet bippy she would be in full Halloween mode! I have seen animals who absolutely love dressing up and I have seen others who absolutely hate it. I think if your animal is okay with it, and a true animal lover will know if the animal is okay with it, then have at it! And don't listen to the petty, simple-minded, people who have nothing better to do than cast ridicule at others who don't share their beliefs.


To all the crybabies saying how inhumane it is to dress up an animal, boo freakin' hoo to you. As long as the animal isn't in any pain or distress (like the article states), it's perfectly fine to dress up your pets. My cat & I enter the Halloween costume contest at Petco every year & everyone in the store looks forward to seeing us in our new costumes. I custom make his costumes so they fit him just right & make sure he's comfortable. I got him for Christmas so I dress him up in a Santa's Lil' Helper costume & he gets his picture taken with Santa, too. If you don't want to dress up your pets, that's fine, don't - but don't bash those of us that do.

Shelly Collins

I don't think some people should be so judgemental regarding those who dress their animals. I agree with the above article. Some animals like it, and some don't, so act accordingly. My dogs would never tolerate even an bandana, so I never dressed them. I would always walk them along with my trick or treating son, calling them the "haunted hounds". I would never try and dress a cat. My cat was miserable at first when I started putting a harness on her to take her outside. Then she realized that the harness meant she'd get to go outside and now she is very cooperative getting her harness on. She LOVES going outside. My brother has a pug who loves to be dressed up, and a springer spaniel that would never tolerate any dressing, so they act accordingly.