8 ways to make Halloween scary-good for your pets

Tips on creating a simple costume to get your dog or cat into the Halloween spirit, plus ways to make the holiday fun for shelter pets, too.
By Nicole Hamilton

Is it us or are things starting to get spooky, as in the fun kind of spooky — not the when-will-2020-end kind? So how about having a little fun this Halloween? And while you’re at it, why not get your cat or dog into the spirit of the holiday, too?

If your pets feel comfortable, you could dress them up in a simple costume or you could skip the costume altogether and celebrate with some ghoulish DIY toys, haunted pet houses or a fun pet bed.

To get your pet ready for Allhallows Eve, we’ve gathered some great advice from members of the Best Friends team who are pros at helping pets feel comfortable in costumes, along with some ideas for celebrating the holiday costume-free.

[How to take frighteningly good Halloween photos of your pets]

1. When costuming pets, take it slow. This advice comes from Lori Fusaro, photographer at Best Friends in Los Angeles, who almost every week makes cats and dogs at Best Friends in Los Angeles feel comfortable in all kinds of fun get-ups.

Here’s how she does it: First, she brings out the costumes way before day they will put them on. She leaves them out where the animal can see and sniff them. For dogs, she’ll drape costumes over a piece of furniture or put them on their beds. She follows the same process for cats, but will sometimes spray a little catnip on the costumes.

2. A few words about costuming kitties: Here are some words of advice if you’re eager to dress up your cat for Halloween. Sometimes cats are simply unwilling to wear costumes and you’ve just got to be OK with it. It’s better to wait until cats are really relaxed before putting on their costumes. If your cat isn’t into costumes, keep reading. We’ve got you covered.

Black and white cat wearing a festive orange and black collar

3. Treats are good for everything. Have treats on hand for your pets while you’re costuming them. Hey, why not? They deserve a few treats just for being good sports. Plus, treats may be just the trick to actually getting them into their costumes.

“A lot of the dogs think putting on the costume is a really fun game,” says Lori, “so I try to distract them with toys or treats to keep them from chewing on the costume.”

4. If the costume fits: Your pet’s comfort, says Lori, should be paramount. “Too big will feel strange to your pet and too small can be stressful or even harmful.” Choose a costume that’s lightweight enough so your pet can move and the ability to see or communicate with you isn’t diminished.

Black and white kitten wearing an orange and white bow tie with owls on it

5. Start simple. Keeping pet costumes minimal can be just as fun as playing with something more elaborate. Says Lori: “T-shirts are great. You can even use human tees. Bandanas are another easy way to dress up your cat or dog. Wigs are always my favorite for costumes. Glasses come in a big second. I love just playing around and seeing what works. I rarely buy pet costumes because I like to create my own.”

[High fives all around for Virginia’s at-risk pets]

Two dogs wearing wigs

6. Use a unique dog or cat bed instead. Halloween is a great time to invest in a fun pet bed for your cat or dog. Not only will it last long after the witching hour is over, but it’s an easy way to create Instagram-worthy Halloween pics. Here, Piccola gets into the spirit (well, technically it’s a shark) while simply relaxing in her bed (talk about stress-free pet costuming).

Small dog in a shark bed

7. Give them Halloween-themed toys and treats. Take a trip to your local pet supply store and stock up on Halloween-inspired toys. If you’re a DIY person, you can make a ghost fashioned from white socks tied to string (with a little cotton and catnip for the head) ― perfect for cats. A word of caution: Make sure spooky toys for your pets are safe.

Cat playing with a homemade toy that looks like a ghost

As for treats, your favorite store probably carries them, plus there are plenty of great online recipes for homemade ones, too. In fact, why not make or buy some toys and treats for pets at your local shelter so they can enjoy Halloween, too?

8. Make a haunted house or photo backdrop. Get out the cardboard, paint and a little creativity and make your own haunted house this year.

Two kittens playing on a haunted house toy

You could even create a cool backdrop to go with your pet’s costume for a crazy-cool Halloween photoshoot. Here’s a kitten superhero who can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Kitten dressed up as Wonder Woman

Give a shelter pet the scary best Halloween ever

How’s this for a frighteningly good idea? Perhaps October 31 is your day to adopt a pet. Now, that’s a “gotcha day” you won’t forget!

Adopt a pet near you

Read more:

Chocolate Lab is doting foster mom to tiny kittens

Wee little kitten helps Scottish adopter adjust to life in the Lone Star state

Top-secret purrspective from an office cat

Photos by Jennifer Hayes, Lori Fusaro, Sarah Ause Kichas, Erin Miner, Kelli Harmon and Nicole Hamilton

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