Woof. Meow. Boo.
That’s pet-speak for “trick or treat.” Halloween is just around the corner. And if you’re like a lot of pet parents, you’re itching to dress up your pupper or kitty up in super cute cat and dog costumes. And we get it — who wouldn’t want to gaze into the adorable punim of a pug-faced superman, or watch their black tabby trot around the house with a tilted witch’s hat perched atop their head?
But there’s another important question you should ask yourself: Should you dress your pet up in a costume?
And it’s a fair question! This much is true: Cat and dog Halloween costumes can be irritating, restrictive, and even dangerous for pets. If your cat squirms as you try to pull that witch’s hat onto her head, or your Schnoodle scratches and claws at his batman cape the second you snap it on, your pet may be trying to tell you that they'd prefer an au naturale Halloween. Or worse, they may be protesting a poorly designed costume that’s threatening their health.
You need to guarantee your pet's safety and comfort above all else.
With that said, Halloween is a fun special occasion, and if your furry friend is fine with donning a costume — and if you follow some simple safety rules — there’s no reason why you can’t dress them up on October 31. Below, we’ll make some recommendations for fun, safe Halloween costumes for dogs and cats. But first, let’s get some basic safety rules straight.
- Pets eat things! No costumes with toxic materials or choking hazards.
- Make sure the costume fits; anything too tight might make it harder to move or breathe.
- Beware of hanging materials and paper accessories — costumes can catch fire!
- Make sure the costume doesn’t impair your pet’s vision, hearing or sense of smell
- Dark-colored costumes can be dangerous at night, especially outdoors
So with all that in mind, here are our recs:
1. The fire-safe superhero
Pets kind of are superheroes, aren’t they? They may not leap tall buildings in a single bound, but they make us feel happy and safe. In return, we have to keep them safe too. It’s only fair.
So by all means, dress your dog like Batman or your cat like, well, Catwoman. But there are some important things to keep in mind here. First of all, while Batman and Superman may know how to rock a skin-tight outfit, dogs and cats can’t tell us when a costume is restricting their movement, when it's so tight around the chest and belly that it's making it hard for them to breathe, or when it's simply causing discomfort. So always err on the side of caution and purchase a somewhat loose-fitting costume.
By the way, there’s one other problem superhero costumes can cause: If you’re not careful, they can be fire hazards. In large part, you can blame those long, flowing capes. After all, as anyone who’s seen The Incredibles can tell you, capes can be a treacherous addition to any superhero costume.
And Halloween is quite the incendiary holiday. It mostly takes place at night, and it’s filled with glowing jack-o’-lanterns and all types of candles. A doggy or kitty cape that drags along the floor could get your pet seriously injured. It could even knock over a container containing an open flame and set your house on fire. And truth be told, this is true of any costume with loose-hanging materials.
Sounds pretty extreme, right? It's an absolute worst-case scenario, of course. But even so, making sure it can't happen is simple enough.
This pupper Batman costume from Rubie's, with availability at Amazon along with other e-commerce sites, is a great choice for one simple reason: That cape is detachable.
So if you're worried about that conflagration, just rip the cape right off! Or, you know, gently separate the velcro fastener. You do you.
Or (and this makes things really simple) here’s another Batman costume with no cape at all.
Of course, if you’re super committed to preserving the “caped” part of caped crusader, there’s one other workable solution: Just be really, really careful. Make sure there are no candles or jack-o’lanterns around, and always keep a close eye on your pet.
2. The extra-comfy identity crisis
Your furry friend may not think too hard about the other members of their genus, but it’s simply a fact that your scrawny Siamese is closely related to the king of the jungle. So just once a year, it might be fun to confuse the issue.
A lion mane is a very popular choice for kitties. Actually, interestingly enough, it's a popular choice for dogs too. And the good thing about such costumes is that they’re simple to put on. In some cases, the “costume” is nothing but a headpiece (just think of it like an elaborate wig). By the way, while most lion mane options don't have a chin strap, you should always make sure that any type of headpiece that does have one is still loose enough to be comfortable.
Here’s a popular cat lion mane from OMG Adorables.
And here's a popular one for dogs, from Tomsenn.
Even the animal costumes that stretch further (like this lobster outfit from Thrills & Chills) aren’t very restrictive for your pet. In addition to being lightweight, costumes like these are fairly low effort for you to put on, in case you have any objection to wrangling a reluctant fur-friend. They're also pretty durable since they're not dragging on the ground or being stretched by your pet's body, so you'll probably be able to reuse them on future Halloweens.
So try letting your cat or dog masquerade as a completely different animal for a change. It’ll be simple enough for you, and you can rest assured that they’re comfortable and breathing easy.
3. Glow-In-the-Dark Ghouls
Ah yes, the classic Halloween scare tactic — dressing up like ghosts, goblins and other assorted ghouls. And while your pup would certainly make an adorable vampire (they already have the pointy teeth) dressing your pet as a creature of the night has one potentially dangerous drawback: These outfits tend to be dark. And we don’t mean macabre — we mean, quite literally, that they’re made with dark colors. That may be fine if your pet is just chilling in a well-lit house.
But if you’re going to cover your Golden Retriever’s natural bright coat with a dark-blue bodysuit while you take them out for a walk on Halloween night, you may be asking for trouble. It doesn't matter if you have puppies, a smaller dog, a medium-sized dog or a large dog: Poorly-seen pooches can find themselves in the paths of cars, bicycles and even fast-moving trick-or-treaters — and there are a lot of those on Halloween. A good rule of thumb is to simply avoid dark costumes that cover your pup’s entire body — or at least take them off when you bring them outside.
There’s a great work-around to this problem, by the way: Find a costume that glows in the dark, like this nifty Glow Bones outfit from Casual Canine.
4. (Inedible) Disney Icons
Everyone loves movies — and these days Disney seems to own all of them, from The Avengers to Star Wars to Toy Story to Aladdin. But before you dress your furry friend like cowboys, princesses or Jedi knights, just take a moment to picture, say, Princess Jasmine or Luke Skywalker in your mind’s eye. That jewel-studded dress? Total choking hazard. That Jedi tool belt? Could be covered with paint that's toxic to ingest.
Small, loose parts and brilliant colors are perfect for a cinematographer's lens or an animator’s brush, but not always great for your furry friend.
Pet costumes should never have small or detachable parts that your pup or kitty can easily get their chompers around. Otherwise, your light-hearted Disney outfit can mean broken teeth, or even an emergency trip to the vet because your poodle princess swallowed a foreign object or your Siamese Skywalker ate toxic substances.
And as reluctant as we are to become Disney shills (who isn't these days?) the truth is that ShopDisney has some great, safe options.
This Buzz Lightyear costume is a particularly sweet and funny dog costume. To infinity and beyond.
5. The unimpeded pumpkin
Nothing screams “trick or treat” louder than a good-old-fashioned Pumpkin adorning your pooch’s noggin, or even a full-sized jack-o’-lantern draping your kitty from head to paw.
Here’s what’s important, though: Anytime you apply a headpiece, you need to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of your pet’s eyes. They need those to see! You also need to make sure it doesn’t clamp down on their ears (because, you know, hearing) or cover their nose (you get the idea).
We know that dressing up your pet for Halloween is super adorable. But it shouldn’t cost your furry friend their basic senses; at the end of the day, nothing is more dangerous than that. So If you want to dress them up as a pumpkin, have at it — just make sure it isn’t more trouble than it’s worth.
Here's a safe, simple option from ZenBath.
And here’s a full-body version from Thrills & Chills that still leaves your pup’s eyes, ears and snout unobstructed.