By Desiree Carlos
Yes, pets look sooooo cute in costumes! Special occasions become more fun when we see our adorable pets in costumes, specially during Halloween and Christmas.
“However, these costumes can come with some risks, so read on to find out how to prevent any health issues or injuries while your pet is out trick or treating or celebrating at home,” PetMD stressed in “8 Safety Considerations for Halloween Pet Costumes.”
1.Ensure the proper fit of costumes
This has been a problem with me when I buy clothes for our pets and rescues. Most clothes and costumes are often sold as “one size fits most.” You only have small, medium, and large breed options. This is not accurate as a princess shih tzu is smaller than a Lhasa apso. Though both are considered as small breed dogs, the body proportions and sizes are very different. A small-breed costume may fit the princess shih but not the Lhasa apso, specially if the latter is bigger than the usual Lhasa apso. PetMD stressed “a small-breed costume is most likely not going to fit both dogs safely.”
To avoid problems, measure your pet and compare it to the measurements of the costume before buying a costume.
“If a costume is too big, it might trip your pet, leading to an injury. If it is too small, it could squeeze your pet, limit her ability to breathe normally, cause rub sores, and generally be uncomfortable,” PetMD warned.
When your pet is already wearing the costume, watch your dog’s body language. “If it acts uncomfortable or frightened, take the costume off and consider a stylish alternative like a spooky bandana, appropriate bow tie, or something else to show off the season without adding stress to your pet,” PetMD said.
2. Ensure your pet’s full mobility
The costume should also allow your pet to perform all its normal motions. Your pet should be able to see, hear, bark, walk, run, and move about just as always. “If the costume includes a mask or shoes, these are best used for short-term ‘photo ops’ and not for general wear, “ PetMD said.
You can do a test run with the costume a few weeks before the party. This will give you time to adjust the costume or look for another one that is not restrictive. “If you aren’t sure, do several trials with your adjustments leading up to Halloween,” Pet MD said.
3. Ensure your pet’s vision is not limited
Make sure the costume does not block the vision or hearing of your pet. “Watch carefully to be sure that the costume doesn’t droop over the eyes, making it hard for your pet to see where it is going. This could lead to a fall and a potential injury, especially if your dog will be trick or treating in an unfamiliar place,” PetMD said.
Pets are likely to get frightened or stressed if they have no complete hold or control of all their senses. There may be other people or dogs in costume which might scare them too. ”When in doubt, leave off any obstructing portions of the costume,” PetMD said.
4. Check for possible allergic reactions
This is not common but some animals can have allergic reactions to fabrics and detergents. This is why a trial run is helpful to identify any itching, rashes, or respiratory problems the costume might cause. If there are any changes that worry you, remove the costume right away, and bathe your pet in a gentle shampoo. If the problematic signs persist, please call your veterinarian.
5. Ensure there are no hazardous choking items
There are a lot of costumes that have accessories which are loose or can easily be chewed. If these are swallowed, it may lead to choking or a gastrointestinal blockage.
Please check the costume carefully before trying it on your pet. Look for dangling or loosely attached items that could be pulled off or chewed on. “Smaller items such as hats or shoes might even be eaten whole. If possible, remove any pieces that could present a danger to your pet, adjust the costume to be worn safely, or decide on a different outfit that is safe for your animal,” PetMD said.
6. Monitor pet in costume
No animal should be left unsupervised when wearing a costume. PetMD stressed: “…even with a relatively safe outfit, there is always an increased risk of injury. Always leave a responsible adult in charge of the leash so that the pet is appropriately supervised.”
Always monitor your dog when with other dogs. ”Always have your pet on a leash when multiple dogs are around and in costume for safety’s sake,” PetMD said.
7. Recognize signs of stress
There are pets who do not like clothes or costumes. “Most cats will offer their opinions of a costume freely. Dogs might be a little more ‘go along to get along,’ but if your dog has folded down ears or eyes looking sideways or rolling back, or it starts slinking around with a tucked tail or hunched spine, the pet probably isn’t having as much fun with the costume as you are. This isn’t a time for tough love, and if it’s clear your pet doesn’t like the costume or is not comfortable in it, take the hint and remove the outfit,” PetMD said.
8. Ensure id tags are visible
Since it’s Halloween, your pet can be startled by some item or activity that might cause it to run away. Make sure your pet has a clearly visible i.d. so that he or she can be returned to you immediately.
“Getting dressed up for Halloween can be fun for both humans and animals. But it is very important to make sure that the costume you choose for your pet is safe, comfortable, and well tolerated before the festivities. With some preparation and attention to detail, both you and your pet can dress your best for Halloween!” PetMD said.
This article also appears in the Manila Standard
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