The Margin: Americans are spending almost half a billion dollars on Halloween costumes for their pets

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Halloween — or should we say Howl-o-ween — is going to the dogs.

Americans will spend $490 million on costumes for their pets this Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation, which is more than double what they dropped to dress their dogs, cats and other critters in 2010.

Sara Ochoa is one of the 29 million people getting her furbaby into costume for the occasion. The small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas got her seven-year-old Schnoodle (a Schnauzer-poodle mix) named Ruby a $25 cow costume, and she and her husband are dressing up as farmers to match her. Last year they spent about $100 on her princess costume, which included jewelry and a tiara. And one of Ruby’s very first costumes was as a frog, with Ochoa dressing as a princess.

“She loves being able to attend Halloween parties with us,” Ochoa told MarketWatch, noting that Ruby is often the center of attention. “She has been dressing up for Halloween her whole life.” In fact, Ruby has enough clothes to fill her own closet.

Becky Beach, a parenting blogger at, spent about $30 to doll up her Pomeranian, Jivaeri, as a bumblebee this year. The little bug will go trick-or-treating with Beach and her 4-year-old son Bryan. “We get our furbaby involved because she is part of our family. I think of her as my daughter!” Beach told MarketWatch. “She dresses up every year.”

Courtesy of Becky Beach

Jivaeri will be dressed as a bumblebee this year — a popular dog costume pick.

And John Frigo, who works in digital marketing in Chicago, will be dressing his dachshund mix Beans as a hot dog, and his bulldog Bambam as “an old man poker player with a cigar and one of those green visor hats.”

“It’s fun for us, and trick-or-treaters seem to find it funny,” he said, also describing his pups as members of the family. “It’s just kind of natural to involve them in the holidays.”

And it looks like Beans is on trend this year. In fact, you can expect to see packs of four-legged frankfurters among the trick-or-treaters on your block, as “hot dog” is the second most popular pet costume after “pumpkin” on the NRF list. Superhero, bumblebee and cat costumes round out the top five. also surveyed hundreds of dog owners around the country, and found that half (51%) plan to dress their hounds for Halloween, spending about $20 on average. Classic seasonal specters like witches and ghosts are among the most popular costumes on’s list, along with TV and movie characters.

Of course, Americans are spending more on their pets than ever before, according to the American Pet Products Association, as humans laid out a record-breaking $72.56 billion for food, supplies and over-the-counter medications, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services last year.

“Today more than ever, pet owners view their pets as irreplaceable members of their families and lives,” said the APPA’s president and CEO Bob Vetere in a statement. “It’s clear that giving pets the best lives possible is still a top priority for pet owners, and they’re willing to spend more on the quality products and services they consume if it means more quality time with their beloved companions.”

And as far as Halloween spending is concerned, social media is driving some pretty spooktacular trends. Last month, Vanessa Cheng from Hong Kong posted an Instagram FB, -3.39%  video of her 11-month-old French bulldog hobbling down a hall while dressed as Chucky, the killer doll from the “Child’s Play” slasher movie franchise.

It went viral as the likes of Patton Oswalt shared it across Twitter TWTR, -2.38%  and Facebook. And thus, “Chucky dog costume” became the most-searched dog costume on Google GOOG, -0.05%   in September. It’s now sold out on Party City’s PRTY, +2.20%   website, where it was originally $22.50, but some enterprising sellers are hawking it on eBay EBAY, -0.19%   for $80 for those who are willing to pay up to get their paws on one.

Kylie Jenner also posted some photos of her Italian greyhounds dressed as Woody, Buzz Lightyear and Little Bo-Peep from Disney’s DIS, +2.21% “Toy Story” movies in her Instagram Story last week. They run $20.26 to $32.95 on, or they’re also available on Chewy CHWY, +0.93% and Amazon AMZN, -0.95%.

Indeed, the National Retail Federation credits social media for near-record Halloween spending in general, as Americans are laying out $8.8 billion on the fright fest this year, including $3.2 billion on costumes for kids and adults, which is just shy of 2017 year’s record $9.1 billion in total spending.

“Spending hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but we are seeing a noticeable increase in consumers whose Halloween purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a release. Most people are drawing inspiration from Pinterest PINS, -2.73%, followed by YouTube and Instagram.

“I think part of it is maybe the advent of social media, where people can share cute pet pictures, which encourages others to do the same,” agreed Frigo.

And plenty of dog owners have also taken to social media to commiserate over the scratch they’ve spent to get their animals in on the fun.