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posted: 10/7/2012 5:46 AM

Dressing up is fun, but use caution with pets at Halloween

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  • Hank is a male Mastiff who is about 5 years old and weighs around 100 pounds.

    Hank is a male Mastiff who is about 5 years old and weighs around 100 pounds.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Willow, a female Chihuahua, is about six pounds and one year old.

    Willow, a female Chihuahua, is about six pounds and one year old.
    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

By Ellaine Kiriluk
The Buddy Beat

Halloween decorations are popping up all over the neighborhood. There are ghosts hanging from porch lights, witches on windows and a giant green Frankenstein standing on the lawn.

Pretty soon there will be little Batmans, princesses and dinosaurs walking up and down the street. Seems everyone is dressing up, even our dogs.

There are Halloween dog costumes available in pet stores, online, in Halloween party stores, or you can make a homemade one.

You and your dog can dress up as a pair or theme combination. offers suggestions for dog/owner costumes. One is the Hotdog with Ketchup and Mustard -- your dog can wear a hot dog costume and you wear yellow and red shirts and pants. This costume works well if your dog has two "dog parents."

Superman and Spiderman -- both of these costumes are available for purchase -- as are Bee and Flower and Sheep and Little Bo Peep. Other costumes for you and your dog include Bride and Groom done with a veil and bow tie, athletes from rival teams created by each of you wearing sports jerseys, and the angel and devil, using a halo and wings and horns and a tail for you and your dog.

With a little imagination, you and your dog can be a matched set.

As fun as it might be to dress your dog up for Halloween and have him join in the festivities, the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggest protections and common sense precautions to keep your dog safe on what can be a scary Halloween season.

The AAHA notes we should be mindful of our animals FEAR (food, environment, attire and recovery).

Food: Includes Halloween candy, treats and chocolate. Candy and wrappers should be kept out of your pet's reach. Chocolate, which is toxic to animals, can cause restlessness, vomiting, heart disturbances and even death.

Raisins and grapes can be potentially lethal for dogs because they contain an unknown toxin that can damage dogs' kidneys and cause kidney failure. Candy wrappers, if eaten, can cause irritation or obstruction to our pets' digestive systems.

Environment: The loud noises, constant doorbell ringing, excited children and the commotion caused by trick or treaters can frighten our animals.

Provide a safe, stress-free environment to reduce the possibility of your animal injuring himself or others. Put your animal in a room where they won't be disturbed by noise and activity or run out the door at the first opportunity.

Attire: Costumes shouldn't restrict your animal's movement, hearing, vision or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Costumes can cause ligament or joint injuries and animals are more likely to bite if their vision in impaired.

AAHA notes: "Pets are better off left at home during trick or treating excursions. However, if they do tag along, it is best to keep them on a very short leash or harness to keep them from fighting with other animals, eating the treats, becoming victims of practical jokes or biting strangers they encounter.

Recovery: Have a plan if your pet becomes sick, injured or lost during the Halloween season. Have your pet's contact information for his/her veterinarian easily accessible. Also, make sure your pet's identification tags and micro chip information is current and up to date. This increases your chances of your animal being returned to you should your pet escape or get lost.

Halloween is fun: Planning your costumes, dressing up and going to parties. My choices for my animals are easy. My dog Kasey doesn't tolerate dressing up or wearing a costume. And our cat doesn't like a lot of commotion. I think we'll just carve a pumpkin together and call it a day.

• Contact The Buddy Foundation at (847) 290-5806; visit us at 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights; or online at