Thinking about dressing up your pooch or kitty for Halloween? Pet costumes abound on store shelves: Darth Vaders, Batman, Dorothy in a gingham dress, Tyrannosaurus Rex.
But are they really safe for your furry friends?
Experts at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( aspca.org) say you should put a costume on a pet only if you're sure he or she will enjoy it. Otherwise, the animal might experience stress and anxiety.
If dressup is for you, the ASPCA offers some safety tips to keep in mind:
• The outfit should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or restrict his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Be sure to try on costumes in advance of the event. If your pet seems distressed, don't force it.
• Examine your pet's costume and make sure it doesn't have any small pieces that can be chewed off easily, becoming a choking hazard. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on objects or your pet, leading to injury.
• Make sure your dog or cat has on proper identification underneath the costume. If your pet gets spooked and escapes, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver.