Dog days of Halloween

by | Oct 6, 2017 | Features

Every fall, millions of people are faced with the daunting task of what to be for Halloween.

Even more difficult is just how many times your 7-year-old will change his mind before settling on someone — or something — to be. Chewbacca? Spiderman? Pirate? An Emoji?

But for many households, there is another family member that needs a costume: Your pet.

According to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Spending Survey, Americans spend $330 million on costumes for their furry friends, dogs being the most popular pet to dress. Man’s best friend, indeed.

What used to be just a select few choices for your dog in the department store has now taken over an entire aisle. And with the popularity of social media, more people are anxiously waiting to tweet a picture of their precious Lab dressed as a Mad Scientist.

But how does your dog feel about all of this?

Animal welfare groups stress that most dogs are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suits, however Dr. Stephen Zawitoski, science advisor at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in a Newsweek article, “The reality here is that pets are becoming much more integrated into our families … the people that take the time to dress their pets are probably the ones who get good veterinary care [for their pets] and make sure they have good food, exercise and attention.”

The Humane Society of the United States advises pet owners to be cautious when it comes to costumes.

Forgo masks or anything that covers your dog’s eyes or blocks his ability to see 100 percent.

Make sure the costume is comfortable and he can move freely and nothing will tangle around his legs, remove anything that he could chew or choke on and be on the lookout for signs of distress.

Make sure he is able to bark.

Folded down or laid back ears, shifting eyes, a tucked tail or hunching over are signs that he’d rather just be himself for the night.

If you really want to show off the spirit of the season but your dog isn’t having it, you can just stick to a festive bandana.

Whether you are showing off your pup in his Halloween best in a pet parade, going trick-or-treating with the humans in the family or greeting little ghosts and goblins at the door, his safety and the safety of those around him need to be the top priority.

Even the most social and laid back dogs can become stressed with the flurry of activity at the door, strangers yelling loudly for candy, and the sudden awareness that costumed people look really different than what he is familiar with from day to day.

Chad and Emily Brockbrader’s battle-weary viking warrior, Mr. Magoo, proudly strikes a pose (photo at top of article), while Megan Messix and Michael Stibbe’s pet Boss, inset makes a point as a unicorn.

Make sure your dog is wearing proper identification if for any reason he decides to dart outside or get away from you.

A collar with identification tags and a microchip can be lifesavers for your dog.

Microchips are inserted under the skin, so in the event the collar is lost any shelter or veterinary clinic can scan them and retrieve your information.

If your dog is aggressive, anxious or normally anti-social it may be best to keep them in another room during the Halloween commotion to ensure a safe evening.

Prior to the precariousness of the tinsel, lights and glass ornaments of Christmastime there are several spooky dangers when it comes to Halloween.

Candy can be dangerous — even deadly — to your dog. Chocolate is toxic and in large quantities can even be lethal to dogs.

Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are more toxic than milk chocolate and symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and seizures.

According to, sugar-free candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause a drop in blood sugar and also cause serious problems.

If you suspect your dog has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian immediately. You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. But don’t get scared.

Your dog can still trick and treat with safe snacks that are quick and easy to make at home.