Using Halloween as an opportunity to dress up a beloved pet as a spooky bat or creepy spider might be regarded as harmless fun, even if questionable on grounds of good taste alone.
But now vets have put the frighteners on pet owners, warning them they could be putting their animals at risk by adorning them with wings, extra legs and other "witching hour" accessories.
Vets say forcing animals to wear costumes, a trend that has been popularised on social media, may not only give the pets themselves a scare but leave them unable to defend themselves or evade other predators.
Justine Shotton, of the British Veterinary Association, said: “Most owners consider pets a part of the family, which is great, but it’s important to remember that pets are not fashion accessories.
“Dressing up animals or otherwise unnaturally changing their appearance is not only unnecessary and potentially harmful, but in some cases can also prevent pets from expressing their natural behaviours and from using their body language to communicate. Some costumes may also prevent pets from regulating their body temperature properly and breathing freely, which is especially a concern for flat-faced dogs like French bulldogs and Pugs.
“Halloween is already quite a stressful time for some pets, with excited children, familiar people looking different in costumes and masks, and lots of unfamiliar people coming to the door too. It’s always best to try to keep pets calm and reassured, rather than to add to any anxiety and discomfort by dressing them up too.”
Eddie Clutton, a professor of veterinary anesthesiology at the University of Edinburgh, said dressing cats in clumsy wings could endanger them when they leave the house, or even lead to strangulation.
"As far as cats are concerned, you can't actually confine them - they get away dressed in something,” he told The Telegraph. "The idea of dressing them up as a Halloween creature is dangerous. Sadly it reflects more on the owners than the animals themselves.
"The biggest problem with cats in collars is they go through bushes and the collar will become trapped and the animal will asphyxiate itself. If it gets trapped and it doesn't vocalise it may be trapped for a long time until somebody finds it," he said.
Prof Clutton said that costumes were "sadly demeaning on the animal".
"Would you dress your child up to look stupid and have people comment on its being 'Dracula the Dog'? It's not really treating dogs as dogs and cats as cats," he said. "If you went to visit your granny with dementia in a care home, would you dress her up as a witch?”