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Halloween is here! Are you excited about dressing up your furry friends?
According to a recent survey conducted by Rover, more than 75% of pet owners intend to dress up their animals this year, and more than 50% intend to take their dogs trick-or-treating. But a dog’s physical and mental health may be impacted by these same tacky outfits.
“A lot of pet ownership is selfish,” says Annie Grossman, owner and co-founder of School for the Dogs, a dog training facility in New York City. “We have pets more because of our enjoyment of having a pet in most cases. It’s not necessarily in the dog’s best interest — and certainly I can’t think of any good reason why a dog would want to be putting on a costume.”
Candace Croney, a professor and the director of animal welfare science at Purdue University, bases her opinion on “what we know, in general, of dogs relative to their experiences with new stimuli,” despite the fact that experts have not specifically investigated how costumes affect dogs.
“If the dog has a pet family that normally puts on any sort of clothing, handles them, dresses them and tolerates that pretty well, odds are — unless the costume is really aversive — the dog is probably not going to be terribly disturbed,” she said.
In addition, Croney warns that costumes should never be ill-fitting because dogs frequently have sensitive or irritable skin, as well as anything that could restrict their mobility or cause them to choke. This is true regardless of how accustomed a dog may be to wearing clothing. Additionally, costumes may become poisonous if they come into contact with any Halloween candy, particularly chocolate.
Grossman studied the expressions on the faces of shelter dogs who had marched in a Halloween parade earlier. “People post all these photos of dogs in costumes and, if you have an eye that is trained to look at body language, or look at their behavior, and the dogs all look miserable,” she added.
So if you have plans on dressing up your pup for Halloween this year, be sure your dog is happy, comfortable, and safe in their costumes.