You will be hard-pressed to agree that there is nothing cuter than a dog dressed up as a pumpkin on Halloween. Dogs are, anyways, one of the cutest creatures on the planet. Put them in some cute clothes, and that cuteness increases by miles. However, the last day of October is not only meant for a Halloween dog costume and a ton of photoshoots. When you put your dog in a costume, you have to make sure that your dog is safe and comfortable.
Some of these Halloween costumes can come with risks. Now is the time to find out which costume is perfect for your dog. You must know how to prevent any injury or health issue while you take your dog out to trick or treat and for the celebrations.
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Here are some Halloween dog costume tips and tricks that allow you to enjoy an amazing Halloween with your pup without putting him through too much.
Halloween dog costume tips for safety
Find out if your dog is okay with dressing up.
Not every dog likes to dress up like Delta. Delta loves to wear clothes. He has been clothed since childhood, and now it is such a habit that if I don’t put him in a T-shirt, he feels uncomfortable. However, Delta has always preferred to be in clothes. This is not true for every dog. Some dogs hate wearing clothes. If your dog is amongst the ones who do not like to wear outfits, do not force them. Forcing your dog to wear something that the dog is not ready for, can cause unnecessary anxiety and severe stress. Unless you are making your dog wear something for health reasons or safety, you should never force them.
Focus on the choking hazards
Many Halloween dog costumes come with buttons and other small accessories that can easily be chewed off and swallowed. As a responsible dog parent, you must check the safety of the costume, whether it is the right one for your dog or not. One of the crucial parts of this check is to find if the costume contains anything that is small and can be easily swallowed by your dog.
Many costumes come with loose accessories that can easily be pulled off. Once pulled off, they get swallowed by the dog and cause gastrointestinal blockage or choking. When you check the costume, run your hand through the entire costume. This will give you a feel of which portions or materials are dangling or attached loose. The Loosely attached items can easily be pulled off by your dog. Small items like shoes, hats, or buttons can even be swallowed whole. These can go get into the intestine of your dog and cause blockage, which will then require surgery to fix. Therefore, always remove any tiny piece that may act as a danger to your dog. Adjust or alter the costume so that it’s safe for your pup. If the alteration is not an option, choose a different outfit entirely.
Fitting of the costume
It is very hard to find a costume that is tailor-made for your dog. Most costumes are available in a ‘one size fits all style. However, they may not fit your dog. These costumes are only available as small, medium, or large extra-large options. Suppose dog guardians are buying costumes for a Lhasa apso and teacup poodle. Both of these dogs belong to the small breed category. However, a costume that may be the right size for a Lhasa apso may be too big for a teacup poodle since the two have different body proportions. Therefore, finding a costume that fits your dog appropriately can be very hard. If you get a costume that is too small for your dog, it can squeeze your pup and limit his ability to breathe properly. It can also cause sores on the skin, stress, and anxiety.
There is a solution to this. Before you order the costume, measure your dog’s dimensions. Most of the costumes will have details like chest size, length, height, etc. if the details are given on the site or present on the tag match with those of your dog, then you can go ahead and purchase that Halloween dog costume.
Once the costume is on your dog, watch him carefully for a while. If your dog seems comfortable in the costume, has no problem moving around, and is being his regular self, it is okay. If your dog seems uncomfortable, frightened, or stressed out and is constantly trying to take off the costume, it would be a wiser idea to remove the costume itself.
You can still dress up your dog in a cute bandana, headband, or spooky bowtie. These will still show off the season without being too much on your dog.
The next criterion when purchasing a Halloween dog costume is that it should provide your dog with complete mobility. If the outfit restricts the mobility of your dog in any way, he will not be comfortable. The dog should be able to properly hear, run, bark, and move around the house or the neighborhood in his usual manner. If the costume comes with masks, the best idea would be to use these for the photo shoot and remove them later. When you take your dog out your dog should not be in a mask. It can limit his vision and make it very uncomfortable for him.
Always do a test run.
Before you put the costume on your dog for Halloween, do a test run before. For the test run, put the clothes on your dog and allow him to run freely. If he seems comfortable with moving around and has no issues with mobility, then the costume is good for him. If not, then it is time to put that costume away and look for a new one. Alternatively, you can ask to exchange the costume and get another size that would be a better fit for your dog. One crucial piece of advice at this point is to conduct this test a couple of weeks before Halloween. If you do it the night before Halloween, your dog may not be comfortable, and you may not have enough time to look for another costume for your pup.
Go for a lightweight Halloween dog costume. If you get a heavy costume for your dog, he will not only get tired quickly carrying around all that weight, but he will also be immensely uncomfortable. Always look for costumes that are light in weight. The first priority is the comfort of your dog, not how he looks in the costume. The trial run will tell you if the costume should be kept or returned to the store. With a lightweight costume, your dog will not only be more comfortable, but he will also be able to participate in the festivities to the fullest extent.
A partial costume is also an option. If your dog is not comfortable with the whole costume, you can put on the part of it and leave the uncomfortable bits out. Suppose your dog is okay with the main dress but is not a fan of the hat. In that case, just put on the dress. Leave the hat out of the equation. As long as your dog is comfortable, he will be happy. Putting on the entire costume is not worth it if your dog keeps fidgeting and feeling uncomfortable. Uncomfortable costumes can also make your dog aggressive and lash out at you in fear. Thus, the most important should be given to comfort over all else.
No vision limitations
when looking for a costume, make sure that you don’t buy a costume that inhibits the vision of your dog. As I mentioned before, costumes with masks should only be used during the photo shoot. Once the photo shoot is done, the mask should be removed. Anything that covers the face can block your dog’s hearing or vision. This is a very uncomfortable scenario for your dog.
Even if your dog does not show signs of immediate discomfort, there’s always a chance that your dog may fall and suffer from a potential injury because his senses have been blocked by the costume. Furthermore, if you take your dog to a place that he has never been before, the chances of injury increase. Therefore, make sure that the vision of your dog is not limited.
Your dog may trust you with all his heart. However, if suddenly his vision and hearing are impaired, it will cause him severe stress, and he will be afraid. You need to understand that there might be others (dogs and people) in costumes as well. It is itself too much stimulation for your dog in a day. If you restrict his senses, it will just add to the anxiety, confusion, and add to stress that your dog is already going through.
This is one factor that is not very commonly observed. Dogs do suffer from allergies, just like humans. However, a dog that has an allergy to clothes or costumes is not very common. But not unheard of. There is a chance that your dog may have an allergic reaction to the fabric of the costume or the detergent. This is why a trial run is crucial before you put your dog in the costume on Halloween night. Your trial run will tell you if the costume is well suited to your dog or not.
If you see any changes coming on your dog after putting on the costume, like excessive itching, respiratory issues, rashes, etc., immediately remove the costume from your dog and give a bath with mild shampoo. If the signs of allergy continue to persist, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Never leave your dog alone in the costume.
Costumes are not regular wear clothes for dogs. If you are putting your dog in a costume, you should look at it as a ‘supervised only’ toy. Your dog should never be left alone in the costume. Even if you have chosen a relatively safe Halloween dog costume for your pups, you are still putting your dog at risk. Unless it’s a simple T-shirt with some Halloween print, your dog can always try and chew off bits of the costume. Therefore, either leave your dog with a responsible adult or constantly watch over your dog so that your dog does not chew anything that can cause a gastrointestinal hazard.
If your family has more than one dog, supervision is necessary all the more. Dogs have a tendency to pull things off of each other. Therefore, if two dogs are in a costume, they are likely to pull and chew off the loose things that might be in the other dog’s costume.
Sometimes when dogs are in costume, they may give off a different vibe than usual. It will also be hard for the other animals in your house to recognize your pup in a costume. This can cause a conflict between the dog and other animals. This can happen even if the dogs were originally friendly. Thus, in case there are many dogs around, your dog should be on a leash and constantly supervised so you can keep him safe.
Understand the signs of stress
Many of us do not enjoy dressing up for going out. Similarly, not all dogs like to dress up. Cats are more open to directly rejecting the idea of wearing a dress. However, dogs most often try to please their guardians. Therefore, they have a “go along so that you get along” type attitude. Despite this, if your dog is giving you signs that he is not comfortable wearing the costume, the costume should be removed immediately.
Signs of discomfort in dogs
- Ears flat and sticking to the head
- Eyes rolling back
- Eyes looking sideways
- Hunched posture
- Withdrawn attitude
- Not moving
- Moving in a funny manner
If you notice these signs on your dog, it means that the pup is not enjoying it and is definitely not comfortable in the Halloween dog costume. This is not the time to teach your dog to be comfortable in a costume. This is the time to remove the costume and make sure that your dog feels comfortable again.
Ensure that the ID tags are completely visible
A lot of pets get scared on Halloween night, seeing other people in costumes. If something spooks your dog, he or she may run away. If this happens, the ID tag can be a huge help. Your dog must be wearing a collar with an ID tag that is clearly visible. You should also have a microchip that provides all the current contact information. This way, if someone finds your dog, they can bring him back to you. Some of the places also require dogs to have a visible rabies tag on the collar. This should not be taken lightly, especially if your dog will go to new places and meet with other people and animals.
Getting ready for Halloween is the most fun part. However, it is not the same in the case of dogs as it is for humans. Make sure that you buy an outfit that your dog will feel comfortable in. it should not have anything that can be chewed or swallowed. Always do a trial run a few weeks before the celebrations so that you know that the costume is fitting properly and your dog is not feeling uncomfortable. If your dog is feeling uncomfortable, then you can either alter the costume or change it entirely. Alternatively, if you decide to not go for a Halloween dog costume you can opt for a headband, bow ties, etc.
Your main focus must be on your dog’s responsiveness. Your dog should feel comfortable with whatever he wears. As long as the costume is safe for your pup and he is comfortable, you and your dog can get ready to enjoy some amazing festivities together.
If you want to know more about dog care, psychology, and training purposes, please subscribe to The Happy Puppers. Your subscription will allow me to notify you whenever I release a new blog post. If you have any queries that you wish for me to address directly, you can always reach me live on Twitch. If you like watching videos, do not forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel of The Happy Puppers, Shruti, and Delta. Ring the notification bell as well.
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