Is Dressing Up Pets in Halloween Costumes Cruel?

by Britt

With spooky season around the corner, many pet stores are now showcasing a variety of fun and adorable costumes for your pets. But this leads many pet owners to ask – Is dressing up pets in Halloween costumes cruel?

Mackenzie Kilmer/Shutterstock

The answer isn’t black and white. To decide whether you should pick up Fido or Fifi a cute costume this season, there are a few important factors that you are going to need to consider.

Is the Costume Really Pet Friendly?

We would like to assume that any costume being sold for pets is pet friendly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. While there are highly trusted brands that will only put out costumes that are safe and comfortable for your pet, there are also many others that focus on the ‘cute factor’ over all else including the well-being of the one that will be wearing it.

Before purchasing that adorable costume, ask yourself the following questions:

-         Can it be put on my pet without causing stress and anxiety?

-         Are there adjustable cords or areas that could tighten on my pet during wear, creating a safety concern?

-         Are there any small pieces that could easily be chewed off and/or swallowed?

-         Will it restrict my pet’s ability to move when wearing it?

-         Does it limit my pet’s sight or ability to hear?

-         Will it interfere with my pet’s ability to breathe, eat, or drink in any way?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, your best bet is to put the costume back on the rack and keep searching. This isn’t to say that costumes are completely off the table, just that you need to find one that is safe for use.

Elaborate Costumes Vs a Simpler Approach

There are two different common categories when looking at pet Halloween costumes. On one hand, you have the costumes that go all out in an effort to make a statement. This could include sweaters, headpieces, booties, and more. While these costumes often look like the perfect solution for the Halloween lovers among us, your pet may not agree. There are more pieces involved that could make your pet feel anxious or uncomfortable.

If you are interested in an elaborate costume this season, you will need to take the time to consider each element involved carefully.

The other option that we are seeing more frequently is a simplified costume. These are designed to allow your pet to partake in the spooky festivities without making it too uncomfortable. They avoid the elements that upset many pets such as booties and headpieces. They may use bandanas, capes, shirts, or vests to “dress up” your pet. These are often easier to DIY for those that are interesting in making a pet costume at home.

Don’t Forget Your Pet’s Comfort Level

It’s also important to note that every pet is going to be different. Even in our house, with 5 pets, we have a couple that will proudly strut in a more elaborate costume while others would be much happier in a Halloween-themed bandana. If you have a pet that regularly wears sweaters, booties, and other accessories, a Halloween costume may not be that different. A pet that doesn’t ever wear clothes and accessories may find getting dressed up stressful.

Pay attention to your pet’s body language and never lave your pet in a costume unsupervised regardless of their comfort level!   


Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Indiana and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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