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Published: Oct 04, 2012

Halloween has become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially for pet owners. According to a recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), seven in 10 Americans plan to celebrate the holiday this year, with the average person spending nearly $80 on costumes, decorations, candy and other Halloween items.

But the holiday isn't just for children any more. In fact, the NRF's annual Halloween spending survey revealed that 15 percent plan on including their pets in the festivities by dressing them up. It's not surprising, considering many people treat their pets as part of their families.

The Associated Press reports that the assortment of pet Halloween costumes available at nationwide pet retailer PetSmart more than doubled last year, although company officials wouldn't divulge how many they sold. They did share which costumes are most popular for our furry friends - bumble bees and pumpkins.

Whether you choose a store-bought costume or make one on your own, pet health experts say there are some things to keep in mind if you plan on dressing your cat or dog in costume this Halloween.

According to, dog and cat owners should take the same precautions when it comes to pet costumes as they do with costumes for their human children. For instance, it's important to put safety first and ensure there are no small pieces that can be chewed off.

In addition, costumes should not be overly snug or restrictive to the animal's breathing and movement. Your pet's eyes, ears and nose should not be covered. If a mask is used, it should leave plenty of room for the eyes and should not affect the animal's vision.

Experts say it is often helpful to allow your animal to wear his costume ahead of time so he can get used to it. And, it shouldn't be forced if he is clearly miserable with it on.

Whether you plan on dressing your cat or dog up for a Halloween party or parade, or to go trick-or-treating, it's important to remember to keep them leashed or in a carrier.

Keeping chocolate and other sweet treats meant for humans away from your pet is also crucial, as they can be dangerous if eaten by animals. If your pet ingests these foods, you should contact a veterinary hospital. Keep an eye out for more Halloween pet safety tip articles this month.