Should Dogs Wear Halloween Costumes?

Dog clothing can be cute, but at what point does it become cruel to dress up your dog for Halloween?

Heather Marcoux  |  Oct 15th 2014


With a name like GhostBuster, you would think my dog would be a great candidate for a Halloween costume, but trust me — he isn’t.

Before we adopted GhostBuster, I always assumed I would be the kind of dog owner who would put her pup in adorable sweaters and cute costumes, but after watching him react negatively to just having a cone on his head and socks on his feet, I knew my boy would not be down to get dressed up for Halloween.

“He should only wear functional clothes,” my husband said when forced to browse pet products with me at a Halloween pop-up store. Because the webs of GhostBuster’s feet get red and itchy when wet, we’ve already agreed that snow boots are probably in our dog’s future.

“And if it gets down to minus 40 again he might have to wear a coat,” said my husband. “But no unnecessary clothes.”

Luckily for clothing-averse GhostBuster, a coat won’t be necessary until the very coldest weather comes (and by then he may welcome the extra insulation). Unlike the Greyhounds and French Bulldogs we see sporting coats here as early as October, my Labrador mix was born to withstand Canadian winters. He’s not going to freeze during every snowy walk, but on those days when the car won’t start and the schools are closed he may need some help staying warm.

“As soon as it starts to get cold, like maybe the first snowfall, we’re inundated with requests for snow suits and coats,” says Kathryn Walker, owner and designer of Coco Napolepon’s Canadian Petwear.

Based in the northern Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, Walker started the company with her mother after the pair couldn’t find the right winter gear for their little chocolate Poodle. In addition to outerwear, Walker’s company also makes canine costumes. She says the same rules apply, whether your dog is dressing for winter or a wedding.

“With any clothes for a dog you have to look at the functionality of it as well as the safety of it,” she explains.

I hope more dog owners seek out functional pet costumes this season, and consider their dog’s comfort.

I think that some dogs look very cute when they’re dressed up — but when I see a dog trying to twist, turn and scratch her way out of whatever wooly sweater, tight football jersey or head-to-toe sheep costume her human put her in, I don’t think that’s cute. It’s cruel. Get your dog out of it.

All costumes and clothes need to be appropriate for the dog wearing them, and that’s why my GhostBuster will be sporting only a festive bandana this Halloween.

I think my husband said it best as we left the cheap costumes on the shelf of the Halloween store and paid for GhostBuster’s newest accessory. “A bandana is the perfect costume for this dog. It’s functional and comfortable and he won’t hate you for it.”

Do you dress your dog for function, fashion or both? How do you make sure your dog is comfortable in a costume? Let us know in the comments.

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About the author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google +