Much like human costumes, pet Halloween outfits also require a little bit of forethought. Whether that’s two months, two days or two hours is your call, but even the most last-minute ensembles deserve safety considerations at minimum.
Don’t let poor planning rain on your pet Halloween parade! Take the advice of our animal costume experts to guarantee a fun, yet uneventful, fright night.
1. Costume Size Considerations
Megan Boyd, a Target spokesperson, says your pet’s comfort is paramount and to always consider their personality as well. “A very active dog might have difficulty keeping a hat on or could be uncomfortable in a costume that hinders their movement,” Boyd advises. “Target.com offers a dog and cat size chart to help pet parents easily choose the right size according to pet weight, length, neck measurements and breed.”
Bessie Howorth, Jane.com’s Pet Merchant, agrees. She encourages pet parents to think about the breed of their dog even before its weight or height. For instance, she says that bully breeds — pit bulls, Staffordshire terriers, bull terriers, boxers, Boston terriers and, of course, bulldogs — will need a costume that has a very big chest and neck measurements. “Our mermaid costume is specially fitted for bully breeds that are notoriously hard to fit!” Howorth tells PEOPLE.
“If you’re still unsure, your best friend is a costume that’s just one piece, like a headpiece,” she says. “We currently have the unicorn [headpiece] that’s small or large, and we even have it for humans to match!”
2. Counteracting the Destroyers Club
“DIY is your friend! TY toy tags are a cheap and easy way to get a costume on your pup that will chew anything and everything,” suggests Howorth. Besides, if you’re creative, your dog doesn’t have to wear a bulky costume that it will most likely destroy. “If your furbaby is friendly, take a scrap piece of cardboard, cut a hole in it, and write ‘kissing booth’ on the front, and voila! You have a cute way to showcase your pet this holiday.”
Howorth also says you can make your own pet paint and offers this at-home recipe: “Mix water, cornstarch, table salt and sugar in a pot. Stir everything together on low heat. Continue to cook and stir for 10 minutes until the mixture thickens. Separate the mixture into small bowls. Use a different bowl for each color. Stir in two or three drops of food coloring. Use a tablespoon to mix in the food coloring. As you stir, the paint will cool. Start painting. Use a spray bottle for great coverage. This paint can be used as finger paint, pet paint (if your vet approves painting your dog) or for painting mats or toys for use by pets.”
3. Forgo Costumes for Fun Accessories and Toys
Boyd over at Target also has some suggestions for chewers, scratchers and the like. “We all know that cat or dog that just can’t seem to keep their adorable outfit on,” she says. “Target offers a number of cat collars, harnesses and Halloween-themed bandanas for pets who prefer to forgo a traditional costume.”
“We also have a great selection of BARK toys from the Are You Afraid of the Bark collection, for dogs looking to get into the Halloween spirit without necessarily dressing for it. For cats, we have Halloween cat caves and a Halloween scratch house designed to get even the most reluctant pets in on the fun.”
4. Coordinating DIY Disguises
Boyd assures pet parents who are still looking for that perfect costume match that it’s not too late. Customers can “pick out their pet’s costume online and pick it up the very same day with Target’s Order Pickup option.”
“It’s also important to not forget your pets when you are stocking up on Halloween candy for yourself,” Target’s rep reminds PEOPLE. Count BARKula Bites are a super cute and pup-safe candy alternative.
5. Knowing Their Behavior Is Your Best Friend’s Best Bet
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You know your pet better than anyone else, so it’s of the utmost importance to be realistic when it comes to your furry kid’s costume expectations. A docile dog or cat may be able to handle being hoisted into a complicated ensemble, whereas a wily puppy or kitten might get agitated or even aggressive.
“We want pets to stay safe while being stylish this Halloween,” Boyd reminds us. “We recommend that pet parents consider their dog or cat’s activity level when picking out a costume to ensure that it is not only the right size, but that it feels secure and comfortable for their furry family member.”