Pet costumes not just for Halloween any more

AP and WiG

Wally the Welsh corgi used to get dressed up to go trick-or-treating for Halloween, often as a banana, once as a dinosaur.

But Wally, whose companion humans are Marc and Cynthia Dalangin of Wharton, New Jersey, doesn’t go trick-or-treating anymore. He’s got 100,000 Instagram followers, as well as modeling jobs for the Queen Mary Two and pet treat brands. Even without Halloween, he needs a wardrobe full of costumes.

The 7-year-old celebrity pooch is not alone. These days, dogs and their owners are going to parties, parades, meet-ups, pumpkin patches, picnics, Christmas tree farms and many other themed outings.

As a result, canine costumes have become more than just something dogs wear once to a party. It’s essential for dogs and cats who are up-and-coming social media celebrities to have a varied wardrobe. With their likes and followers growing faster than a Kardashian’s, their fans want fresh photos all the time.

The pet costume industry is coming of age and business is booming.

In 2015, the National Retail Federation estimated that 20 million pet owners would dress their pets in Halloween costumes, spending $350 million.

Pet costumes represent 10 to 12 percent of Costume SuperCenter’s Halloween sales, according to content marketing manager Matthew Shanley. The company sells nothing but costumes and accessories on eBay and other sites.

The majority of Costume SuperCenter’s pet costumes sell for $14.99 to $24.99. The average cost of a pet costume is $18.99, according to Shanley.

That’s a high price when you consider that pet costumes are estimated to require only a 10th of the fabric used in making human costumes.

Halloween costumes for pets and people tend to follow news headlines and movies. The most popular movie theme for pet costumes is Star Wars, especially Darth Vader and Yoda costumes.

Especially popular are “ride-along” pet costumes, such as the “Star Wars Dewback Dog Costume.” It consists of a figure that appears to be riding the dog, like a sand-trooper riding a dewback, a reptile from Star Wars, according to Shanley.

“The dewback was one of the main domesticated beasts on the planet Tatooine, large and cold-blooded yet easy to tame, and the imperial sandtroopers used them for a variety of functions, such as transportation and moisture farming,” reads the company’s description. “Now your puppy can carry a sandtrooper with them in true dewback fashion as they trot around the Halloween party sniffing all the new people (who) have come to visit.”

Last fall, the top five best-selling pet costumes on eBay were Superman, lion, panda, Batman and necktie.

Most sellers said they stock pet costumes year-round, because birthdays, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are all good holidays for partying and photographs. And keeping up one’s online profile with fresh photos is a year-round job.