Homemade Pet Costumes

Old kids' costumes can be recycled for the family pet

If you want to indulge in a bit of good-natured silliness but don't want to spend much money, homemade pet costumes are a great way to get the furry members of the family in on some dress-up fun.

Ideas for Homemade Pet Costumes

For those who think making a costume for your dog, cat, rabbit or pony (but mostly just for dogs) is an undertaking that involves a lot of sewing experience, think again. A simple costume doesn't even have to involve a needle at all. Mostly, all you need is a little imagination.

Dressing animals as other animals is one of the most popular choices in costumes for pets. For those who celebrate Easter, dressing dogs as bunnies immeasurably adds to the fun. And a bunny costume is easy to make yourself. All you really need are ears, which you can build from construction paper or scrap fabric and wire on a Velcro headband, which you must then secure on your dog's head. It may not last all day, but it will be good for some memorable pictures.

Dogs can also be dressed like insects, with ladybugs being very popular, especially for smaller dogs. Again, you don't need to be able to sew. If you have a jacket for your dog, you can attach some red felt to it using safety pins and glue black felt circles to that. A headpiece can be made with Velcro and pipe cleaners.

This same idea can be used in creating the very popular superhero costumes. A cape representing any masked crusader, including one you've made up, is easy to create for the occasion.

Tips on Making Pet Costumes

Homemade pet costumes don't even have to be made, they can be recycled. For small dogs or cats, you can use old infant or toddler clothes and attach fabric or accessories to turn your animal into a fairy, bumble bee or ballerina. In fact, if you have an infant's costume that's been outgrown, this is a great way to get a few more uses out of it.

For a larger dog, you can use an old t-shirt as the basis for a costume. Using Velcro, staples or a glue gun, you can attach any number of things to the shirt - with wings, spider legs and tiger stripes being some of the most popular ideas.

If you are adapting an abandoned child's costume to use for your dog, bear in mind that the sizing will be very different. Your dog may weigh the same as the child, but the length of the dog's body and breadth of its build can mean that a costume will be too tight in some places and too loose in others. If you are sure the costume will have no more human use, a little work with a scissors and needle will be in order. Obviously, you can't expect a dog to stand still while you're pinning, but you can measure his girth against the width of the costume and work accordingly.

Whatever you do, make sure that none of the dog's movements are restricted. The legs, tail and head must be able to move freely.

Unless you are an expert designer, it's best to keep it simple. Remember, even just a hat or bandanna can be funny or charming on an animal, so you don't have to get elaborate. A triangle of black fabric and a paper-made hat will turn your dog into a witch. Purple fabric and a cardboard crown makes a fine king or queen costume. Since it may be ruined, or worn only once, you are best off not making much of an investment.

Think About Safety

What's obvious for kids isn't always so for animals, but even the simplest homemade pet costume needs to keep safety in mind. In addition to freedom of movement, be sure that your dog retains full peripheral vision, isn't pressing uncomfortably and does not impeding breathing or panting. You want everyone to have a good time - pets included!

Homemade Pet Costumes