Skip to main content

Celebrity Groomer Jess Rona on Dressing or Dyeing Your Dog for Halloween

When to DIY and when to leave it to the pros...

by Avery Felman | expert review by Jess Rona
October 13, 2021
dog with blue dy
Laura Fay / iStock

Sign up for The Wildest newsletter for updates

While Halloween might conjure fond childhood memories of dressing your cat up as a mummy with gauze — just me? — there are new and improved ways to express your pet’s personality while keeping them happy and fully mobile. We spoke to celebrity dog groomer Jess Rona of Jess Rona Grooming, to get her thoughts on the newest in pet costume technology (hint: it’s a DIY) and how to safely dye your dog. If you’ve been wanting to mimic one of this year’s Met Gala fails, while still allowing your pet to flail, these tips could be just the trick. Don’t worry, we’ve omitted Kim Kardashian’s morph suit.

What should pet parents consider when choosing a costume, in terms of fit and comfort?  

Just make sure it doesn’t rub or chafe your dog’s armpits if it’s something that slides over them. Try on the outfit and have your dog walk around. And I don’t love tight boots on dogs. I see people walking their dogs with boots and sometimes it can mat up the fur on the feet. So just make sure you’re brushing your dog out if they have fluff after they wear their costume.

Can certain costumes irritate a pet’s skin sensitivities?

Usually it’s okay, because their fur acts as a barrier between the costume and their skin. Obviously, just make sure your dog is comfortable. Look for signs of discomfort, like, real discomfort, and just try to honor your dog. Don’t let them overheat if it’s a hot costume. Opawz makes these washable, non-toxic airbrush pens called Blow Pens — I would just do a splash of color on your dog’s tail.

Lady Gaga and a dog styled to look like her
Courtesy of Jess Rona

What about more involved pet painting, when your dog kind of is the costume, like a black dog with white skeleton stripes.

There are a couple of things you can do. Pet Paint is a spray that’s also non-toxic, but it can be messy (the Blow Pens are a little less messy). So what I do is I’ll deposit a little bit of color on a dog’s tail, then run a brush through it — it kind of glides through the coat and distributes the color in a more even way.

Just make sure that the dye you buy is specifically made for dogs. If it’s permanent, it needs to be shampooed and dried, but [there are temporary options too]. And, um, don’t dye a cat at home.

I’ve never heard of anyone dying a cat. Is that a thing?

I hope not!

What is okay to DIY at home versus what you should leave to the pros?

Don’t dye your dog’s face at home. That should be entrusted to professionals. I just say steer clear of making your dog look like a crash project. Sometimes people go crazy and it just ends up looking like chaos. So do something weird like a subtle hint or a splash of color. That’s just my taste.

Do you have any personal fun costume ideas?

I put my dog in a Hawaiian shirt once — clothes are usually less restrictive than full costumes. But sometimes an accessory [is all it takes], like a fake gold chain. Say your dog is a mob boss! Every dog is different. You know your own dog. Just make sure they’re comfortable, don’t leave a costume on for too long, and have fun with it.

Lil Wayne and a dog styled to look like him
Courtesy of Jess Rona

Related articles

Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her boyfriend and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.