Pets in Costumes: Cute or Cruel?

Americans will spend $330 million on costumes for their pets this year. That’s $70 million more than last year’s expenditure and a 65 percent increase from what they spent in 2010. As many as 22 million pets could be subjected to wearing a Halloween outfit.

It’s estimated that 15 percent of Americans will buy costumes for their pets and will spend barely three times more on costumes for children than they will for pets.

The business of pet costumes has been growing exponentially. It’s no longer about throwing a bandana or a Santa hat on your dog. Last year’s most popular costumes for pets were pumpkins, devils and hot dogs, but this year we can expect to see even more fancy outfits, with dogs dressed as tacos, skunks, crayons, dinosaurs, chefs, princesses, leprechauns, flowers and even as Gumby.

This trend is just plain wrong. Our pets are not our toys, to be turned into miniature versions of ourselves. Do we really think they would agree to this treatment if they had any say in it?

Would any self-respecting dog want to look like this?

Many animal lovers agree.

Eileen Proctor, who is the owner of a “cage-free pet resort and spa,” warns that your pet’s costume may be unsafe.

From The Denver Post:

“Don’t assume that just because a company is selling a pet costume that it is a suitable costume for pets,” she warns. And don’t make the mistake of assuming your dog will enjoy human trick-or-treating, in costume or out.

Proctor, owner of Villa La Paws in Castle Rock and a consultant to pet entrepreneurs, says pet owners must make this their cardinal costume rule: “If the dog looks miserable, he probably is.” For those pets, just use a festive bandana instead, she says. (Cats generally have less need to please owners and will make their disdain patently obvious.)

She goes on to warn that costumes should not restrict movement or breathing or involve masks. She adds that your dog should always be supervised while in costume, and that if you’re going to dress your dog (or cat) up for an occasion, ease into it early with praise and short sessions.

But really, it’s clear that there are all kinds of possible problems, so why subject your pet to this treatment in the first place?

Nevertheless, you may see this costume:

What is this all about?

“Everyone is interested in how they look and how they accessorize themselves,” Richard Parrott, president of Ricky’s NYC, told Newsweek. “And pets, somewhat, are accessories. They’re part of your life, but they’re the next extension of an accessory.”

Pet as accessories? Do we really want to emulate Paris Hilton and her affinity for purse-sized dogs that she carries down red carpets, the Kardashians’ pet pig, Snow White, or Justin Bieber’s monkey, OG Mally?

Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, science advisor at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has a different take on it. He believes people find it cute to dress their pet up.

“The reality here is that pets are becoming much more integrated into our families… The people who take the time to dress up their pets are probably the ones who get good veterinary care [for their pets] and make sure they have good food, exercise and attention.”

I’m not sure about that. In checking with relatives and friends in the U.K., I got the response: “I think this must be an American thing. We don’t do that over here.”

What do you think? Are you planning to dress up your kitty for Halloween? Is this a brilliant idea or pet torture?

Photo Credits: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

K H.
Kate H3 years ago

If the pet is uncomfortable, or gets hurt or scared in the process of putting the costume on, then that's really awful.

Karen McNutt
Karen McNutt4 years ago

Who can say why people enjoy the practice of dressing their cat or dog in costumes, maybe they never had children and missed the opportunity to dress them up . Cats and dogs are animals and as such deserve to have some dignity in their lives. Dressing them up is a silly practice and waste of money. Think of all the money wasted on that practice and imagine instead if that money were donated to worthy causes. The world would be a better place for all of us!

Karen McNutt
Karen McNutt4 years ago

This dog does not appear to be very happy. I think the whole idea of dressing our poor pets up is a silly human idea, as far as that goes I will put a red bow around my dog's neck to celebrate Xmas, but that is as far as I will go.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

cruel. they aren't meant to be baby dolls.

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

I don´t think is that cruel, but I don´t think they enjoy this either

Lydia M.
Lydia M4 years ago

Thanks for sharing this article..

I'm sorry but I find this practice of dressing animals up in hideous outfits & costumes utterly sad & cruel..
I think it's humiliating & degrading to the animals concerned, not to mention unnecessary..
I don't find it funny to poke fun at, or ridicule the animal & those who partake in this practice are being disrespectful & cruel, in my opinion..
I also don't like to see captions of animals specifically dressed up for a photography session & I feel offended by this..
It would not be of the animals choosing, to dress up in this humiliating manner, only to be laughed at.. I think they look distressed, confused, upset & embarrassed..

I much prefer to see an animal in it's natural form..

In Winter, I think it's acceptable for a thin skinned animal such as a Greyhound to wear a waterproof, warm Dog Coat, which is Practical but it doesn't subject the dog to ridicule..

Apologies to those whose opinions differ to mine but I just had to air my personal opinion..

Lynda Duke
Lynda Duke4 years ago

I just wonder, if we could hear what our furbabies would say when we dress them up, would we continue to do so? I for one find it foolish to dress up a pet to satisfy our own desire to get attention. That's all its for. The pet - gets nothing out of it, except to be uncomfortable in any sort of get up. They can't move around, they can't do their business freely, and more important they have no idea what you are doing to them. Imagine how difficult it is for them in a harness and leash to walk them. They want to be free - of course, because they are...animals. No amount of "costumes" will dignify their place in lives, as slaves to our whims.

Mark McKendrick
Mark McKendrick4 years ago

Very cynical of you, Deborah. Vilification... how very American. Colin simply was unaware - a mistake. Who are you: the "really" person? You think it justifies your need to dress your animals just because you found someone in the UK who chooses to partake in this sad humiliating practise? Get a room, Honey.