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Pet costumes come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges

Her name says it all: Lucky. Mary Ellen Wertanen's six-month-old chow-chow is fortunate indeed. Not only is her mom, er, owner constantly purchasing odd and ends to spoil the pooch, she even gets her involved in the spirit of holidays. Especially Halloween.

"Of course I'll be dressing her up," said Wertanen, owner of The Pet Super Store in Snellville. "I've got the costume all ready."

Come All Hallow's Eve, Lucky will be pretty in pink, donned in her princess costume. It's a safe bet she won't be the only pup on the block dressing up for the holiday, either.

When Wertanen opened her shop in 1991, pet costumes weren't even a blip on the trend radar. Dressing up your pet was just something bored folks did to pass the time.

But in recent years, costumes for pets have become a hot commodity. They fly off the shelves, said Helen Knowles, manager of Petco in Snellville. Wertanen has even made more space in her shop for animal costumes.

"It's just so much fun. In the last couple of years, people have been doing more for their pets, and this is just an extension of that," Wertanen said. "The costumes are only popular at Halloween, but pets clothes sell all year-round. I even have Christmas sweaters that light up for dogs."

It's hard to guesstimate which costumes are the most popular, Knowles said, as designs vary depending on the animal's size. While costumes come in sizes for both large and small dogs, it's the little ones that tend to sell better.

"The bigger dogs just don't seem to like it as much," Knowles said.

Pet costumes range from the obvious - witch hats and flying capes, and animal transformations like zebra stripes, pig snouts and lion manes - to the ultra-clever.

"The hot dog costumes for the dachshund is too cute. It's a very big seller," Wertanen said. Priced similar to human costumes, pet attire price tags go from reasonable to absurd, with most starting at $9.99.

Four-legged Halloween fun doesn't stop at just costumes. Wertanen has had more than a few customers purchase pet strollers to take their canine trick or treating with them.

"You don't want your dog to be left out," she said.

When taking pets on a Halloween outing, Knowles urges owners to purchase fluorescent costumes, or at least glow-in-the-dark collars and leashes so the dog is visible in the dark.

When decking your dog out for Halloween, Wertanen recommends bringing the animal to the store to try on costumes beforehand. If you can't do that, she suggests measuring the dog's length and circumference to ensure a comfortable fit.

"And be sure to keep things off their face," she said. "They don't like things hanging in their face, just like a baby."

SideBar: Best Pet Costumes

Sure, your costume is all prepared. But what about the pooch? Here a few of our favorite pet costumes we've seen in local Target stores, all priced under $20:

Pumpkin

Princess Leia

Yoda

Superman

Snow White

Bumblebee

Spider-Man

Jack Sparrow

Shrek