From Cats Dressed as Pumpkins to Guinea Pigs as Pineapples, Halloween Has Gone to the Dogs

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A group of Chihuahua Terriers, dressed as caged dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, tied for first place at The Urban Pet’s 12th annual Halloween costume contest, benefitting rescue dogs.

A fluffy white Maltese in a Dumbo costume, with floppy big elephant ears, a yellow hat, and elephant trunk and feet, was the other first place winner in the Los Angeles-area pet store chain’s contest.

“Where we are in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, Halloween is a big deal in general—for people and dogs,” said Chris Cool, assistant manager of The Urban Pet.

But L.A. isn’t the only place where pet people go big on Halloween.

Research shows that Halloween pet costumes are a booming industry with no signs of ghosting on growth.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans are expected to spend $490 million on pet costumes in 2019—up 124% since 2010, when the NRF started tracking the category.

“That’s a lot more than we see in adult costumes and children’s costumes,” said Mark Mathews, vice president of research development and industry analysis at the NRF. “Pet costumes are growing faster than anything to be honest, which is really interesting.”

In the last five years, spending on pet costumes has grown 38%—more than children’s costumes, at 10%, and adult costumes, at 9%, Mathews said.

From Amazon, Petco, and PetSmart to DIY tutorials online, the number of choices of Halloween costumes for dogs and cats grow each year.

Cat dressed in a Halloween 2019 spider costume. Photo courtesy of PetSmart

“Pets are considered part of the family,” said Mary Lugones, director of business strategy at online pet store Chewy. “So naturally dressing up our fur babies has become important.” Dania Beach, Fla.-based Chewy is a subsidiary of PetSmart.

Green Dog daycare in Chicago, which runs an annual Halloween costume contest, has seen costume creativity blow up faster than a front-yard inflatable decoration.

“We have seen a pug as Elton John, which was a pretty creative costume, and a terrier as Jimmy Hoffa,” said Anna Marlatt, manager at Green Dog. “Everyone is pretty pumped to dress up their pup.”

Social media is likely fueling the demand, Mathews suggests.

“When you see people dressing up their dog as a pumpkin or hot dog, it gives you license to do so,” Mathews said. “Some of the pictures are just so cute and you want to do the same.”

Nationally speaking, the most popular pet costumes are pumpkin, at number one, hot dog and super hero tied at number two, followed by bumblebee, cat, witch, lion, dog, devil and shark, Mathews said.

“Star Wars characters and a spider are tied for number 10,” Mathews noted.

Dogs and cats aren’t the only non-humans who dress up on Halloween.

At PetSmart, the chain sells costumes for guinea pigs—styles include a unicorn, pineapple, and shark, and fish tank decorations, so your fish can swim next to, say, a scary underwater orange pumpkin. Sorry, no fish costumes—yet.

Guinea pig dressed as a mermaid for Halloween 2019. Photo courtesy of PetSmart

“Halloween is truly a holiday where all pets can get in on the fun,” said Steve Chattin, vice president of Dog and Cat Hardgoods Merchandising at PetSmart.

The retail chain started seeing an increased demand in pet costumes about five years ago, Chattin said.

“Every year since we’ve seen the demand grow,” he said. “Pet parents want a variety of pet costume offerings and we’re always looking to deliver the latest trends as well as the traditional favorites.”

It looks like more and more pets will continue to dress up for Halloween, if humans have their way.

“With the pet humanization trend continuing to rise and the desire for pet parents to incorporate pets into holiday festivities, the demand for pet costumes, accessories, and toys is steadily increasing year after year,” Chattin said.

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