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Dr. Jasmine Streeter, Special to The Skanner News
Published: 06 October 2016

Ahhh -- the fresh smell of fall is in the air, and the overwhelming boom of pumpkin spice everything is making its rounds (much to the chagrin of those of us who prefer chai tea and sweet potato pie, like myself).

With the fall comes Halloween -- last stop before Santa Claus and baby Jesus make their appearance. In Portland, Halloween could easily be mistaken for every day of the year, so it wouldn’t be right to have your pet miss out on the festivities. Whether you are for or against Halloween, we can all agree that seeing a Dachshund dressed as a Chicago Style Hotdog or a terrier dressed as a T-Rex is hilarious. The fact of the matter is, if you and your pet enjoy dressing up, go for it!

There are couple of questions to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect princess gown or lion costume, though. Does it hurt? Is it scary? Can your pet choke on it? Even though we all feel we know what is best for our pets, simple observations will truly tell you if both of you are getting enjoyment from playing dress up.

  1. Does it hurt? Make sure the costume fits. Pet costumes can be handmade, purchased from commercial pet stores, local boutiques or online. Common sizes range from XXS to 3X just like with humans or are sized by weight. There is nothing worse than having shoes that are too tight or a shirt that rubs underneath your armpits. Try your pet costumes in advance or as soon as possible and let your pet walk around to see if they look comfortable. If they’re moving funny, return the costume and get a new one. You want your princess to glide, not limp from pain.
  1. Is it scary? You may be thinking Halloween is supposed to be scary. That would be a yes for humans but definite no for pets. Animals should be happy in their costumes or around people dressed in them. Comfort can depend on breed, age, health and how socialized your animal is to the environment. If your dog barks incessantly, growls, tries to run and hide or shows the whites of its eyes, take off the costume and give the pet time to acclimate.
  1. Can they choke on the costume? This issue is more common for handmade, reused, or children’s costumes that have been modified to fit a pet. Small parts, loose strings or fibers and add-on attachments present a choking hazard. Remember, never leave a pet unattended while in costume to decrease the risk of entanglement, entrapment, or strangulation.

Whatever season or holiday you choose to celebrate, there is a dog costume that’s just right for you. For you cat lovers, don’t feel shy about dressing up your little ones too. Just make sure you to have a Howlin’/Meowin’ good time and take lots of pictures.

Feel free to submit your questions and pet costume pictures to [email protected] for a chance to be featured in the next column.

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