Seventy two per cent of pet owners say they’ll dress up their pet this Halloween, according to a survey of 250 cat and dog owners conducted by Bought By Many.
Are you dressing up your pet this Halloween?
Forty eight per cent of owners who will be dressing their pet this Halloween say their pet loves it, whereas the main reason 28% of the owners won’t be is because their pet doesn’t like it.
Our results suggest owners take their pet's feelings into account when deciding whether to put them in a Halloween costume or not. This is a sensible approach that is backed up by charities such as Blue Cross.
Blue Cross advises that, “as long as your dog is used to wearing a coat and the costume is comfortable this is usually a bit of harmless fun, but most cats won’t enjoy being dressed up at all so it is best to be avoided.”
Our survey found more than half of dog owners plan to take their pet trick or treating with them. The Blue Cross recommends against this because dogs may become anxious or confused around people wearing costumes or be scared by fireworks that are more likely to be set off around this time of year.
Learn more about how to look look after your pet on Bonfire Night.
Why some are against pets wearing costumes
Some animal rights activists are still reluctant to entertain the idea that dressing pets up in costumes can be harmless.
Last week blogger Kerry Whelpdale became the target of criticism from viewers of Good Morning Britain.
Whelpdale and animal rights campaigner Wendy Turner Webster appeared on Good Morning Britain to discuss whether dressing up pets for Halloween is cruel. Whelpdale’s dog Lulu’s Halloween outfit sparked strong-worded posts on the show’s Twitter page. This is not an uncommon response to pet owners dressing up their pets.
Posting a picture of your pet in a costume on Facebook can make people angry.
According to the RSPCA, pets rely on subtle body language cues to communicate. Covering a tail, ears or whiskers can make that difficult, which may make them feel frightened and uncomfortable. A costume that restricts a pet’s range of motion could be harmful too.
But it is not against pets that are susceptible to the cold wearing jackets. And if a costume allows a dog to use its tail, head, ears and show its body position it is probably fine.
48% say their pets like wearing costumes
Some people believe putting a pet in a costume may cause it to feel embarrassed or humiliated.
But is that true for all pets and pet owners? The results of our survey suggest that people do pay attention to their pet's likes and dislikes and act accordingly.
Kerry Whelpdale said that if her pet was uncomfortable in a costume "I would take the outfit off, but honestly she is so happy, she feels like she's one of us."
Many of the respondents to our survey agree, of the 72% of owners who will be dressing their pet up this year, 48% say they do it because their pet enjoys it.
How to safely dress up your pet for Halloween
If you are nervous about dressing up your pet, here are some tips. Pets Halloween outfit should:
- Be lightweight and allow a full range of motion
- Not obscure their vision, block their mouth, nose or cover their ears.
- Not restrict their breathing
- Not have any bits sticking out near your pet’s eyes
Avoid designs that wrap around their necks tightly and have things they can chew off and swallow.
TV show The Dog Whisperer presenter Cesar Millan TV says that unlike boots and coats that can protect dogs from the cold, elaborate costumes don’t serve a purpose and are purely for our enjoyment, and should therefore be avoided.
Make sure your pet is not covered in a way that would inhibit its ability to communicate with you as that would make it harder for you to read their response.
"In some costumes where they're completely covered we can't see how they're feeling,” says Dr Samantha Gaines from the RSPCA and adds that even just “putting a hat on a dog still restricts its ability to tell you how it's feeling”.
And always listen to your pet – if he or she is unhappy with wearing a costume they’ll let you know.
Signs your pet might be distressed and uncomfortable in a costume
If your pet is exhibiting any of the following it’s a good indicator it is not happy in its costume.
Be on lookout for:
- Whale eyes (when a dog shows you the whites of its eyes)
- Tucked tails (dogs)
- A restless, flicking tail (cats)
- Pawing at the costume
- Pinned-back ears
- Nervous when running around
- It attempts to remove it
If your pet exhibits any signs of discomfort let it go as its pawsome self this Halloween.