Halloween and costumes go hand in hand, or paw in paw, in a lot of cases.
People will spend a record $370 million this year on pet costumes, primarily for dogs, which is up nearly 20 percent from last year’s $310 million, according to the National Retail Federation.
University of Central Arkansas senior Laura Raney, 22, of Texas said she bought her dog, Marley, an $8 bumblebee costume at Walmart.
She got the puppy — a half Chihuahua, half rat terrier — a year ago in September.
“Last year, I did not dress her up because I could find nothing that fit her; she was so tiny,” Raney said. “I could hold her in my hand when I got her.”
Raney said she bought the costume last month, and Marley has been “running around the house” in it.
Because she lives in an apartment, Raney said she doesn’t get many trick-or-treaters, so she and Marley will go to a friend’s house on Oct. 31.
“I think we all plan on dressing up. She’ll be part of the party,” Raney said.
Jessica Dewar, 27, and a friend, Iris Clawson, 25, both of Conway, were looking at the selection of Halloween costumes at PetSmart in Conway.
Dewar said she has a black cat named Baxter, so he’s perfect to dress up on Halloween.
“Halloween’s my favorite,” she said. “We didn’t dress him up last year. The year before that, I made a dragon costume.”
This year, she said, she plans to buy him a costume.
She said she was considering a shark. Clawson pointed out a hippo costume and said one of her favorites on display was the Acme rocket costume that straps to a pet’s back.
“I kind of want Baxter to be a vampire this year because he has huge fangs, and I’ve never really utilized them,” Dewar said.
Dewar said her other cat, Jet, (so named for being fast) won’t stand for being dressed up.
“Baxter is so old and grumpy; he’s caved,” she said.
Misty Taylor of Vilonia, 37, and her daughter, Marissa Porter, 17, were laughing as they imagined their white Maltese dog in one of the costumes.
“Isn’t that too cute,” Taylor said, picking up a cow costume. “I think he’d be a cute cow.”
Marissa said, “I’ve always wanted to have a wiener dog and dress him up like a hot dog.”
According to the National Retail Federation, the most popular pet costume will be a pumpkin, with devils and hot dogs following closely behind.
Other costumes available at PetSmart included pirates, ladybugs, toads, bikers, Spider-Man, uh, dog, and “Cat Woman,” which actually was a dog costume. Little doggie wigs were available in blond and hot pink.
Cody Clay, a manager at PetSmart, said last week that pet Halloween costumes were selling well.
“Frogs and sock monkeys seem to be the popular ones,” he said. “Penguins are always cute.”
For cats, he said, most of the costumes are things to “go on their head.”
“Cats don’t usually like to wear anything,” Clay said.
He said he owns two cats but doesn’t dress them up for Halloween.
Dog costumes could be used for cats, or any pet, “as long as it stays on the animal,” he said.
April Mayfield, 33, is experiencing her first Halloween as the owner of Bow Wow and Meow Bakery and Boutique near Maumelle.
She said she took suggestions from customers about what costumes to order.
“For dogs, we’ve been asked this year to get a lot of the hot dogs, so we have hot dogs with ketchup and hot dogs with mustard,” she said.
Those work well for dachshunds, she said.
“Another thing that’s been popular this year has been pirate costumes,” she said.
Mayfield said she’s also gotten a few requests for ladybug costumes, and she has costumes running the gamut from lobsters to emergency-room doctors.
“We have two flowers, and they were featured on the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2,” she said.
It’s not just diminutive dogs that get dressed up, though.
“We do have a company that goes up to a [size] 3X. I actually had a Great Dane in this morning, and we measured him, and it will fit him, thank goodness,” she said.
Mayfield said the dog’s owners were trying to decide between two costumes — a strip of bacon or a crayon.
For cats, Mayfield said, she offers a witch hat, a “devil cat” with a cape, and a kitty-crusader costume that looks similar to Puss ’n’ Boots.
People often like to dress up their pets for the same reason they do anything else with them — their animals are part of the family.
“I don’t have kids; I just have my cats,” Dewar said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.