Dressing up companion animals is “unnecessary” and could prevent them from communicating or even breathing
Putting a Halloween costume on your pet can be “potentially harmful,” the British Vet Association told Sky News on Thursday ahead of the holiday weekend.
While “most owners consider pets a part of the family, which is great … it’s important to remember that pets are not fashion accessories,” the organization’s senior vice president, Justine Shotton, stated.
“Dressing up animals or otherwise unnaturally changing their appearance is not only unnecessary and potentially harmful, but in some cases can also prevent pets from expressing their natural behaviors and from using their body language to communicate,” she continued.
Outfits that cover ears and restrict movement are especially risky for companion animals, and they can even interfere with body temperature regulation and breathing in some breeds prone to these issues, such as “flat-faced dogs like French bulldogs and pugs.” Putting false teeth or a tight collar on an animal presents a choking hazard.
Shotton encouraged pet owners to “try to keep pets calm and reassured” as their surroundings are in flux with “familiar people looking different in costumes and masks,” urging them to ask themselves before putting a costume on their dog or cat “whether dressing your pet up is really going to deliver any tangible benefits for them.”
The RSPCA has also advised against unduly stressing out companion animals by putting them in costumes, while University of Edinburgh professor of veterinary anesthesiology Eddie Clutton told the Mirror that dressing pets up was “demeaning” for the animal.
“If you went to visit your granny with dementia in a care home, would you dress her up as a witch?” he asked.
Despite the warnings from experts, many cities and towns host pet Halloween parades in which locals are encouraged to outfit their companion animals in human-amusing finery.
While figures for the exact amount spent by the British on pet Halloween costumes are difficult to come by, their American counterparts spent a whopping $490 million on costumes for pets last year.
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