- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Halloween is a cherished and widely celebrated holiday—one often enjoyed with our pets in tow.
It’s hard to deny the cute factor of a pet in a Halloween costume. In fact, in a recent Rover survey* of U.S. pet parents, 79% of pet parents said they are planning to dress their dog in a Halloween costume this year.
In the same survey, over half (54%) of pet parents say they plan to bring their dog trick-or-treating. Pets may get more Halloween action at home though, as a whopping 70% of pet parents say that their dog may help them greet trick-or-treaters and give out Halloween candy at the door.
Though Halloween may look a bit different this year due to the current economic downturn, pet parents are determined to include their pets in holiday celebrations. To help save on costs, 1 in 10 (11%) pet parents plan to reuse an old Halloween costume for their pet, and 16% plan to hand make their dog’s costume this year.
Some pet parents are taking more drastic measures. In fact, of those surveyed, more than one third (35%) say they will downgrade their candy selection for trick-or-treaters due to the current economic downturn. Another 15% are considering it.
From costume inspiration and safety tips, to helping your pet navigate potential anxiety triggers and keeping them out of the candy bowl, we worked with certified professional dog trainer, Nicole Ellis, and veterinary expert, Dr. Rebecca Greenstein of the Dog People Panel to help you plan a fun and safe Halloween for your pet(s).
2022 Pet Costume Trends
The costumes we choose for our pets are often a reflection of our own interests and experiences. In fact, our survey revealed that nearly half (45%) of pet parents were inspired by current events and pop culture when selecting their dog’s costume (e.g. viral videos, pandemic, pop culture icons, athletes, etc.). Others are choosing Halloween costumes for their dogs that pair well with their own outfits. Of pet parents surveyed, 52% plan to wear a matching or complementary Halloween costume with their dog.
Those aren’t the only motivators, though. 16% of pet parents admit that “likes” on social media was a top factor in their costume selection and 61% plan to share on social media footage of their dog in costume.
It’s no question that there is no shortage of iconic moments to draw inspiration from this year. Our survey shows that more than one-third (35%) of pet parents are considering a dog costume inspired by the popular Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon. Other popular costume considerations include the British royal family (28%), Stranger Things (26%), and Hocus Pocus (21%).
To help us round out the list, we consulted Rover’s resident dog influencer, Olive, and identified a few more pet costume trends we expect to see on and off social media this Halloween.
The “It’s Corn” Kid
Margot Robbie’s Leaked “Barbie” Photo
Tips for Comfy and Cute Costumes
Comfort and safety are top of mind for pet parents when it comes to choosing their dog’s Halloween costume. According to our survey, two thirds (75%) of pet parents say their dog’s comfort is the #1 factor when choosing a Halloween costume.
We’ve rounded up the top tips from our experts to help you choose a cool and comfortable costume for your pet:
- Make wearing the costume fun! Give your pet lots of praise, treats, and attention.
- Make sure that fitted costumes aren’t too restrictive around the chest and throat, especially in dogs who are already portly, snub-faced, or have a history of breathing or other health issues. Your pet should be able to move comfortably, with no parts of the costume that are too tight– including party hats or other items that fasten around the neck.
- Consider your pet’s age and physical limitations, such as arthritis or obstructed breathing, when choosing costumes that include accessories like booties or party hats.
- Watch out for potential choking hazards—like buttons, pompoms, and trim—and avoid accessories that could injure the eyes.
- Ensure your pet doesn’t overheat: Opt for a costume with fabric that breathes well, give your pet(s) breaks from their costume, or consider dressing them up for a quick photo session and removing the costume for the rest of the evening.
- Never leave a costumed pet unsupervised for any period of time. If you have an inquisitive puppy or a known power-chewer, there’s a good chance a costume could end up in pieces before you know it. It may be wisest to save costumes for the humans.
For more tips on ensuring a comfortable costume for your pet, check out our fitting guide, “How to Measure Your Dog for a Harness, Clothes, and Costumes.”
More Halloween Safety Tips
As you plan parties with lots of food and guests and prepare to open your house to trick-or-treaters, don’t forget about your pet. Costumed revelers, the constant ring of the doorbell, unpredictable noises, and an abundance of candy can be stressful for dogs and cats. Meet them at their level and take your cues from the experts: a little advance preparation, a safe, quiet space to retreat to, and heaps of treats and praise can make the day a success for them, and ultimately, easier for everyone.
Our experts shared their top tips to help keep your pets safe and happy while enjoying Halloween activities this year.
Few things go together like Halloween and candy, a tempting and potentially toxic combination for pets who get their paws on the candy bowl. Of those surveyed, 48% of pet parents say their dog has raided the Halloween candy.
To help prevent your own pet from getting into the candy bowl, Dr. Greenstein recommends using a lidded and sealable container to store goodies for trick-or-treaters and keep them safely out of your pet’s reach. According to Greenstein, “Bowls of human Halloween treats should never be left unattended or accessible to nosey pets.”
If you suspect your dog has gotten into human food, or if they are showing any new or concerning symptoms, call your vet immediately.
Noise, Doorbells, and Unpredictable Sights and Sounds
Does your dog bark uncontrollably, hide, or attempt to run away when the doorbell rings? According to Dr. Greenstein, “Many pets struggle with noise phobias and anxiety with strangers or unfamiliar situations.” If you’re expecting trick-or-treaters or hosting a Halloween gathering, try these strategies to help keep your pet feeling calm:
- Limit pets to a safe area of the house. Never let them wander free on Halloween if the front door is constantly opening.
- Use baby gates at the front door to guard against accidental escapes.
- Have a harness and leash on your dog to ensure they don’t run out.
- Keep anxiety-reducing toys on hand such as a lick mat or Kong to keep your pet preoccupied.
- Ensure pets are wearing their collars and ID tags as a precaution.
- For particularly fearful pets, consider keeping them in a quiet area of the home, away from the flurry of activity and noise. Having a family member sit with them, offering treats and calming words, and even using a white noise machine, might offer a calm oasis on an otherwise stressful evening.
Kids in Costumes
Costumes can be super scary to some dogs and others don’t mind at all. For nearly one-fifth (17%) of pet parents, this Halloween could be the first time their dog encounters children in costumes. Whether this will be your dog’s first Halloween or they have existing costume anxiety, our experts say it’s important to set your dog up for success by helping them acclimate to costumed people ahead of time.
Ellis recommends using the following steps:
- Start off by doing a test run without masks and moving slowly. Talk to your pet and reassure them it’s you, and be sure to reward them with pets and treats.
- As your pet gets more comfortable, begin to add on any masks and add movement to your costume. If there are dangling or long pieces of the costume, be careful moving quickly as this may look very similar to a fun tug toy.
- If at some point your pet is stressed out, try making the costume less exciting and repeat the steps above.
- Talk to your dog as you approach them and call them to you. If your dog doesn’t come to you, they may be unsure and it’s best to let them stay in their comfort zone.
- If by Halloween your pet still isn’t comfortable around costumes, don’t force it. A safe room set up for your dog with something like a stuffed Kong to keep them busy or even a pet sitter in a quieter neighborhood where they can comfortably relax is the way to go.
For more tips about how to facilitate safe encounters between pets and kids, read our article, “Kids and Pets: What You Need to Know for Safe Interactions.”
Whether wearing this year’s trendiest costume or reusing an old favorite, dogs are sure to delight in their Halloween garb in costumes that are cute as they are comfortable. For all the fun us humans like to have on Halloween, it’s important to remember the unusual sights and sounds of the holiday can be stressful to our pets.
*Methodology: A survey of 1,000 pet parents in September 2022.