Perhaps your pet is participating in a Halloween parade. Or maybe she’s strutting her fluff at a mutt masquerade. Whether it’s for an event or just a fun family photo in the living room, sometimes pets allow you to dress them up.
Stores and online retailers are stocked with adorable and elaborate costumes for our furry best friends. Our suggestion is use those as a library for ideas. Then adapt something yourself. Plenty of wallet-friendly, no-sew and very simple ideas are available for pet-appropriate makeovers.
Along with being FREE and frugal, the homemade approach offers other bonuses. The outfits are adaptable to individual animals’ personalities and preferences — and also what is handy and cheap from around the house or local thrift store.
Safety first (and kindness) in pet Halloween costumes
When incorporating pets in Halloween festivities, please keep in mind that safety should always rule. The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers great safety tips for pets and suggests avoiding situations, decorations and costume pieces that may potentially frighten or harm animals.
Avoid accessorizing animals with masks and other paraphernalia that interfere with senses and mobility. Most cats and plenty of dogs are happier without any sort of costume, so allow those animals to be themselves on the holiday, suggests Kirsten Theisen of the Humane Society of the United States. (Our friend Lorenzo the Cat, who likes to wear clothes, is an exception.)
For those animals that are in costume, be sure they are always supervised to prevent them from becoming entangled or gnawing on inappropriate items, Theisen says.
One easy and simple solution is to build a costume from items the pet already wears, such as harnesses, bandanas and collars.
Cheap, easy and safe pet costumes (that your pet won’t hate)
Now that we have some safety and comfort parameters in mind, here are 10 easy and cheap ideas for pet costumes:
1. Flying Insect Pet Costume
Wings and things… Sophie, an animal lover from Florida, suggests recycling pet-safe pieces from old costumes kids previously wore. For example, Sophie dressed up her pooch Sprinkles with the wings from a store-bought ladybug outfit she wore several years ago. Fairy wings and insect wings are perfect add-ons for a standard dog harness like this one for sale at Petsmart.
If you don’t have an old pair of wings just lying around, you can make them if you’re crafty. Check out this adorable butterfly costume on Instructables. However, before you spend a lot of money on craft supplies, make sure you can’t just buy wings cheaper.
I suspect dogs will hate this less than cats, unless you somehow are able to get your cat to wear a harness.
2. Superhero Dog Costume
When she knows she’s a superhero… Attach a swatch of draping fabric to a dog’s harness or collar. Embellish the cape with a bold “S” or the words “Super Dog” with fabric paint, markers or letters cut from felt or paper. You can pick up felt and other basic craft supplies at Michael’s.
3. Dog Business Suit
When you have a dapper dog… Cut a piece of cardboard or rigid paper into the shape of a tie or bowtie. Decorate it with polka dots or other snazzy design. Attach with tape or velcro to the front of pet’s collar or onto the tag. Suave. Super simple. And basically free.
If you have talent with needle and thread, you can make one from fabric. The one above is for sale inexpensively from Chewy.com
4. Casual pet costumes
When they’re more at home in t-shirts and tank tops… Comfortable old T-shirts and tank tops offer all sorts of potential. Some are perfect as-is. If the shirt already features a sports team logo and a favorite player’s number, the pet is good to go. Or adapt a plain shirt with markers, paint or felt embellishments. T-shirts can be painted or embellished to look like uniforms, other animals, dragons or favorite foods. Instructions for adapting a person’s T-shirt to fit a dog are featured here. A pal suggests using an old T-shirt to make a bikini or swim trunks.
5. Horse with rider pet costume
Everyone says he’s a horse anyway, so why not give him a rider?Instructables features an idea for transforming a dog into a horse, simply by adding a jockey or a rider to the harness. The rider is actually a doll or stuffed animal toy, strategically poised atop a saddle — er, harness.
6. Restaurant server pet costume
At your service… Gina Newman of Daisy’s Delights, a pet bakery and boutique in Pennsylvania, suggested a fancy restaurant waiter for a dog costume. Glue plastic wine glasses, which are lightweight and inexpensive, to a flat round piece of cardboard. That becomes a serving tray that’s attached to the dog’s harness. A bandana that looks like a tuxedo shirt and tie adds extra pizzazz.
7. “Pimp the ride” dog and cat costumes
For dogs, and some cats… who enjoy being out and about in a wagon or stroller, accessorize the pet’s vehicle to resemble something a pirate ship, jet or a political float. For the political float, embellish a wagon with red, white and blue streamers, flags and signs that say something like “Tuffy For President. ” A stars-and-stripes bandana would be a nice touch.
8. Ninja dog costume
When they move with stealth… Remember the T-shirt idea? That will work here. Luli’s family whipped up a striking and adorable costume with white fabric and a Ninja decal. You should glue or sew the black belt onto the shirt rather than really tying it onto your pet.
Here’s one on Amazon for visual reference…
9. Alternative to cat costumes
Decorate the cat? For kitties who are way too cool to wear anything but their fur, snap a photo with a Halloween-themed pet toy or a pumpkin.
10. Simple pet bandana
When all else fails… just take a cue from the pet groomer and tie a simple bandana around your pet’s collar. You can use a leftover piece of fabric rather than buying a fancy bandana. Instructions on are on the eHow website.
However you decide to dress up your pet for Halloween, remember that it should be fun for them too. If your dog reacts to the costume by biting at it, hiding, or showing any sign of stress, remove the costume. Your pet’s well-being should be priority. Enjoy the holiday, with or without the dress-up.
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