Costuming your pet for Halloween: basic guidelines

costumed petsDear Paws: I want to dress my little dog up for Halloween. Do you have any costuming ideas? — Cheryl in Ormond Beach, Fla.

Dear Cheryl: Personally, I’m not a big fan of dressing pets up for anything. Not that they don’t look cute; it’s just that most pets don’t seem too happy in tiny collegiate sweaters or with big floppy antlers strapped to their heads.

Darn — there I go mentioning two common costuming ideas. But let me add that doggie sweaters trap heat, making them dangerous in warm weather; and big hats or other head coverings can make your pet extremely anxious.

However, I have seen small dogs that seem to enjoy the attention that dressing up brings them. As long as the costume does not make your pet uncomfortable, anxious, too hot or too cold, go right ahead. And make sure your dog can handle a constant stream of cooing guests.

Costumes that dogs seem comfortable in are minimal. A bowtie or (miniature) baby bib work well; I’ve also seen tiny horns glued to a ribbon and clipped or tied to the top of the dog’s head. Whatever you do, make sure that the costume does not interfere with the dog’s sight or walking, and cut everything smaller than you think it needs to be.

Before the party, dress the dog up to see how he or she handles it. If your pet becomes agitated, rethink your idea or abandon it completely.

During the Halloween party, bring the dog in intermittently to meet guests. Don’t let your dog run around underfoot; place him or her in a secluded room or in the kennel cage when the place gets crowded. Take off the costume once everyone’s been introduced. And keep supplying doggie treats and plenty of TLC, no matter what.

Originally published Oct. 22, 2001 by King Features Weekly Service.