Pet Costumes: Do Dogs and Cats Actually like Getting Dressed Up?

Dog 'Jackie' is dressed as a three-headed dog along with handler Nikaela Straus at the 13th annual Dog Halloween …















Halloween pet costume
sales are expected to hit a record $370 million this year, according to USA Today, a 20-percent jump from last year. With this growing trend in mind, we asked the Petside Advisory Board to weigh in on this most adorable quandary: do pets actually like being dressed up in outfits? Here's what they had to say:

Dr. Gerald Post, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (Oncology), MEM, and principal of The Veterinary Cancer Center:


It all depends on the pet. They are individuals just like us and some absolutely love getting "dressed up" while others hate it. My Miniature Schnauzer, Smokey would become a statue and not move a muscle if we ever tried to put any clothing on him. While our Rottweiler Cody would prance around the house pretending to be an elephant (a sock on her nose was her favorite costume).

Charlotte Reed, The Pet Socialite:

My husband and I enjoy dressing up our pets for Halloween, but more importantly, our pets enjoy dressing up. Four of our five dogs enjoy wearing cute costumes, T-shirts, or cold weather gear (jackets, sweaters or snow suits) because when they're dressed they receive a lot of attention, pets and love from our neighbors, friends and the tourists who visit our neighborhood. Wearing clothes is not necessary for all dogs and cats but some of our pets have become accustom to dressing because like ours, they have been dressed since they were puppies or kittens. If you feel your dog or cat can get used to it, and you want to dress your pet for the holidays, make sure to purchase a costume that fits comfortably. Avoid tight fitting clothing and headgear which can be distracting and very uncomfortable for pets to wear. Make sure your animal can potty comfortably in your clothing choices. Most importantly, make sure it is safe, and there are not accessories that can be hazardous to your pet's health. Reward your pet when wearing costumes and reward them with special treats. Let him or her wear and walk around with the costume on a few times before a big reveal at a Halloween parade or party.

Mike Arms, President Helen Woodward Animal Center:

Pets are like people. I have had pets over the years that my daughter liked to play dress-up with. If we noticed that the pet felt uncomfortable, or scared by it, we wouldn't do it. One particular pet, my favorite--his name was "Trouble"--loved, absolutely loved, when my daughter dressed him up in pajamas or costumes. He would run around the house showing off. All pet parents know their pets, and the pet will show you signals, whether they like or dislike something. If your pet is accustom to wearing sweaters, rain coats, rain boots, etc., then the likelihood of them wearing costumes would not be a big deal. Just pay attention to your pet, and if they show signals of fear or intimidation, do not dress them up. But if they show you they're into it, have fun.

Nancy Taylor, President and CEO of Bideawee:

In my opinion, dogs and cats generally do not like to wear outfits. If done properly however, you can teach a dog or cat to "like" wearing attire if you positively condition them (slowly) by giving them a high level food reward every time you put the outfit on them. Just like training a pet to do anything, you need to give them a reason why something is fun. Naturally, dogs like to play, get petted, eat food, etc. So, just like training a dog how to "sit" by using positive reward every time you do it, I would recommend using positive reward when putting an outfit on a dog, which will definitely feel weird and foreign to them at first. Of course, every animal is different, so their ability to tolerate having an outfit on them will vary.