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Frightful friends
by Nathan Orme
Oct 26, 2010 | 1546 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee - Dogs won't be the only animals in costume when the Nevada Humane Society has its safe trick-or-treat event on Halloween. Cats, including Dar, also will be wearing costumes. The animals also will be up for adoption.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Dogs won't be the only animals in costume when the Nevada Humane Society has its safe trick-or-treat event on Halloween. Cats, including Dar, also will be wearing costumes. The animals also will be up for adoption.
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Tribune/Dan McGee - One of the dogs featured at this year's safe trick-or-treating at the Nevada Humane Society is Spock, here dressed as a "Happy Hot Dog." A special needs animal, as he only has use of his front legs, he was ready to greet visitors at the shelter.
Tribune/Dan McGee - One of the dogs featured at this year's safe trick-or-treating at the Nevada Humane Society is Spock, here dressed as a "Happy Hot Dog." A special needs animal, as he only has use of his front legs, he was ready to greet visitors at the shelter.
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Even the ugliest pet somehow becomes cute when it is wearing a Halloween costume.

The industry that has sprung up around Halloween takes people’s obsessions with their four-legged pals seriously, offering a wide variety of creative costumes in various sizes. Primarily made for dogs, costumes range from Spider-Man to Shrek to Zorro, angels, devils, Indiana Jones, witches, bumblebees and many others.

Various news reports put Halloween spending in the billions of dollars between online and brick-and-mortar sales. Kristen Taylor, owner of Scraps Dog Bakery at the Sparks Marina, said she stocks three or four dozen dog costumes for the season.

“They’re all cute, really,” Taylor said. “Anytime you dress up a dog it’s funny, I think.”

Little dogs are the most popular to dress up, she said, naming the hot dog as one of the most popular outfits among her customers.

Dog costume sales are  a bit slow this year, she said, adding that the economy probably figures in to that. Depending on the animal’s size, prices can range from as little as $5 to more than $20. Whereas animals with good homes have to buy their costumes at regular price, the animals at the Nevada Humane Society need homes but get their costumes at a discount thanks to a generous wholesaler, according to NHS community programs director Diane Blankenburg. She added Hawaiian tourist, pig and dinosaur to the list of dog costumes NHS animals will be wearing during the shelter’s Halloween trick-or-treat event on Sunday.

“Some animals love them and some don’t,” Blankenburg said. “It’s rather obvious once you put them on, or try to put them on.”

NHS dog care manager Tim Meevasin said while small dogs are popular to dress up, they can be the most difficult.

“The hardest dogs to costume can be the smallest as they squirm a lot but the easiest are the larger, mellow dogs,” he said. “And cats, they’re all difficult but it depends on their personalities. Kittens can be a problem as they are tricky.”

Taylor said she enjoys watching owners come to her store and try costumes on their dogs, who are usually miserable in the process. As a cat owner, Taylor said she chooses survival over dressing up her pets.

“I like my life too much,” she said with a laugh. “I’d be one bloody mess if I tried to dress them up.”

Safe pet tips for Halloween

The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions during the Halloween season.

1. Chocolate in all forms — especially dark or baking chocolate — can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of pets. Chewing them can result in cuts or burns, or a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Don’t put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it (some do!). For pets who don’t like it, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, it should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, skip the costume or find an alternative.

7. Make sure your pet’s costume does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside. In case it does, make sure it is wearing proper identification to increase the chances of it being returned home.
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