Greg Peck: Do you dress your pet for Halloween?

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Greg Peck
October 30, 2014

As you prepare for Halloween and those trick-or-treaters going door to door Friday, here are a few intriguing facts I got in an email Tuesday from LabDoor.

Would you believe that 86 percent of Americans will buy candy this Halloween and spend $4 billion (that's right, with a “b”) on it? Or that eating one bag of M&M's (47.9 grams) gives you the sugar equivalent of three Krispy Kreme doughnuts? (Yikes, I don't want to think about how much sugar I've swallowed consuming these “melt in your mouth; not in your hand” candies in my lifetime!).

Here are facts I gleaned from a morning segment of “America's Money” on ABC: Americans will spend $350 million this year on costumes for their pets. That's up from $220 million just four years ago. The leading pet costume is a pumpkin, followed by a hotdog.

Molly, our cairn terrier, will be neither. She tolerates the walking jacket in cold weather better than our previous cairn, Trapper, but we think she'd fight any Halloween costume. We even have a photo of Trapper donning a big bow one Christmas and looking sort of annoyed.

A news release I got from the Wisconsin Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection suggests that pet costumes can scare up more problems than you anticipate.

“Some pets have temperaments that will tolerate our desire to dress them up in costumes, but many prefer their birthday suits,” Dr. Yvonne Bellay says in the news release. “Putting them in costumes can cause undue stress for the animal, not to mention dangers that you may not immediately think of like allergies or choking.”

She suggests making sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe and trying it on your pet before the big night. If the animal seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, let it go au natural or with a simple, festive bandana.

The department also warns that chocolate can be toxic to pets, as can candy wrappers such as tin foil that can get stuck in an animal's digestive tract. Be careful that your pet doesn't get burned by or knock over that candle in your jack-o-lantern. Be sure your pet can't dart out the door when you greet trick-or-treaters. Finally, many animals can be quite stressed by a large indoor party or opening the door to hand out candy. Put your pet in a room where it won't be disturbed.

I remember how Halloween left our Trapper shaking with fear. He never went in the basement. One Halloween, however, we found him down there lying near the washer and dryer after we'd greeted trick-or-treaters. He shook for an hour or more before calming down. Molly, in turn, seems to enjoy seeing kids at the door. We greet them in a way that avoids any chance she'll escape.

She won't, however, be wearing any costume.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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