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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News & Views October 2019 Issue

Dear Doctor: Halloween costume for Fido?

LightField Studios | Bigstock

Dog costumes: More fun for you than for your pet.

Q. I have the cutest Halloween princess costume for my dog, and I want to show it off when children come trick or treating, but my neighbor says it is wrong of me to confine her in clothing. I understand the concern, but I think she’s being a little over the top. What do you think?

Carly Larkspur

Short Hills, New Jersey

Dear Ms. Larkspur,

A. In general, we’re not fans of dressing up dogs for occasions that they don’t understand. A canine, after all, doesn’t have a clue about the significance of Halloween.

That said, it really depends on the dog. Some dogs like being dressed up because it means getting extra attention from people who coo over how adorable they look. We heard from one reader whose therapy dog loves seeing her doggie clothing laid out because she knows it means she’s going to visit with people who fuss over her. She has skirts, tutus — you name it.

But if a dog fidgets in clothing — resists having her feet put through the little holes or constantly paws at the material to get it “away” from her — she should not be dressed, no matter how cute she may look.

We suggest that if you’d like to give it a go, don’t let Halloween night be the first time you put the costume on her. Kids in strange clothes will keep knocking at the door, which is going to upend her routine as it is. Try the costume a couple of times before Halloween and see how she reacts. You’ll know pretty fast if she’s okay with it. If she’s not, she’ll start scratching at the material, and you should abandon the idea.

Make sure no costume you want to try obscures your dog’s vision or blocks her nose or mouth in any way. It shouldn’t circle her head or neck too tightly, either. And any attachment the dog can rip off and swallow — like the glittery star on a wand — has to be removed beforehand or attached very securely.

Comments (2)

Jack LOVES clothes. I bought a Happy Birthday harness and his sister wore it yesterday, when he saw it laying there for him today, wow. He licked my nose after I put it on him. Now these two have a wardrobe. Normally he gets the new clean outfit on first; when I got him, I was asked to dress them up and bring them over for Assisted living Week where Mom is. I put her sundress on first. I didn't have anything out for him, I turned around to see him grab the dress and take it off her. I then put a vest on him, put the dress back on and everything was fine. they go to the Pet Parade at the assisted living and both have one first place. Our town has a pet parade with prizes too.

Posted by: Dayzie | October 15, 2019 11:16 AM    Report this comment

MY 8 year old 11 lb Italian Greyhound mix backed away and slunk under the nearest chair when I showed her a costume in the pet store. But the "Jaws" outfit was so perfect for her, I bought it anyway and in a couple of attempts got it on her. (The year before, Sheba had lost several teeth to accident, and the toothy shark costume, with shiny blue body and big white teeth, had her name on it.) After just one walk around our neighborhood, meeting and greeting and showing off her new outfit, she was totally on board and was the star of the show at our church's "Haunted Sanctuary" that Halloween. Bottom line: once she realized the costume didn't harm her, she had fun showing off in it, especially with the kids who would come to her -- she loves it! If it feels right, it's worth a try. If your dog hates it, try to keep the receipts for a possible return (some stores won't take a return for any reason.) Happy Halloween, all!

Posted by: Maggie | October 15, 2019 9:30 AM    Report this comment

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