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Does your pet have a costume yet?

Americans will spend an estimated $370 million on Halloween costumes for family pets. Is this appropriate?

By Karen Datko Oct 26, 2012 6:24PM

Image: Brown Chihuahua snarling with teeth showing (© Michelle Kelley Photography/Flickr RF/Getty Images)Americans will spend a whopping $370 million on Halloween costumes for their pets this year, Time magazine reports. That's a massive $60 million jump over last year's projection by the National Retail Federation. 


In fact, the NRF says that of the 70% of Americans who plan to celebrate Halloween, 15.1% said their plans include a cute little outfit for their pet.


Does that strike you as odd? Families will spend three times more to outfit their kids for Halloween, we've read, but still. My dogs would not be amused, and cats would be even less tolerant, one would think.


Why do we do this? In another Time article, the oft-quoted Kit Yarrow, a psychology professor at Golden Gate University, did a wonderful job of explaining why Americans are so willing to spend large on their pets. (A hat tip to Michelle Singletary of The Washington Post for pointing it out.)


Some of Yarrow's factoids really jumped out:

  • People and their pets get a release of oxytocin when they're together. Dr. Feelgood is in the house.
  • Americans spend $5 billion for holiday presents for their animals. (And you thought the Halloween spending was a bit much.)
  • 81% of owners say their pets are equal members of the family, although I suspect that notion would quickly disappear if forced to make a kind of Sophie's Choice.
  • 39% of cat owners "say their cat is more likely than a romantic partner to pick up on their current mood," Yarrow wrote. Ouch.
  • 58% of pet owners refer to themselves as "Mommy" or "Daddy," presumably during conversation with their beloved animals. (Guilty as charged!)

Yarrow ends with this sweet truth:

"Even though the sharp rise in pet spending may seem puzzling, when all things are considered, pets are a bargain. The emotional gratification most people receive from their pets is immense -- far outweighing whatever money is spent."

If you really care for them, I'd say skip the costume, unless your dog is used to wearing a sweater or coat. However, if you insist that your pet dress up for Halloween, we dug around for some frugal suggestions.

  • Savvy Sugar presented "13 Etsy-inspired pet costumes to DIY on the cheap." The tiny bride and groom are adorable.
  • Mary Hance may be "Ms. Cheap," but that didn't stop her from planning a Halloween costume for her dog. At The Tennessean, she shared a number of creative ideas and tips, like avoiding any choking hazards on the costume. That's a very good point. 
  • The Pet Anthology assembled a helpful list of pet costume links from other sources.

Is a pet costume part of your Halloween festivities this year? How are you going to dress your little furry friend?


More from MSN Money:

Oct 26, 2012 8:27PM
I am proud to say(write) that my litle, Cpt.Jack, is all ready for Halloween with a punpkin hat & halter.
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