Halloween safety tips for pets

Aug 25, 2023

Filled with spooky decorations, creepy costumes and tempting treats, Halloween can be frightful for pets. As a responsible pet parent, you can still enjoy Halloween with your four-legged family member – you’ll just need to take a few precautions. Here we’ll dive into some areas of concern and offer recommendations to get around common Halloween hazards. 

Candy concerns 

While the excitement of Halloween candy is irresistible for most of us humans, it poses significant risks to our furry family members. The following are some holiday hazards to steer clear of:

Chocolate –  A Halloween staple, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine – both toxic to pets. Ingesting chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, hyperactivity, seizures and without prompt treatment, can result in death. 

Sugar and Fat – Additionally the high sugar and fat content in most candies can upset your pet’s digestive system, causing vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis. 

Grapes and raisins – Just because a treat is natural, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for our pets. Grapes and raisins are especially hazardous to dogs because even a small amount – just one raisin – can result in kidney damage. 

Xylitol – Found in many sugar-free candies, xylitol is a natural sweetener that can be deadly to pets. Watch out for sugar-free candies, gum, peanut butter and other human desserts. In dogs, xylitol can result in a dangerous drop in blood sugar, seizures, liver damage and even death. 

Candy wrappers –  If your pet eats enough wrappers, they could be in danger of an intestinal blockage. 

Safe Treat Alternatives

With a little imagination and baking skills, you and your pet can share in the spirit of Halloween. The ASPCA has some great recipe recommendations on whipping up some fresh-baked goodies for your furry family members to enhance your Halloween experience – without the harmful ingredients! Not so skilled at baking? Not to worry! Visit a local pet bakery for fresh-baked treats. Or, visit your local pet stores. Today, many pet stores stock pet-safe holiday treats you can buy in-store. 

Trick or Treating Tips for a Calm & Secure Environment

Halloween and trick-or-treaters can disrupt your pet’s normal routine. From ringing doorbells and the constant opening and closing of doors, your pet could become anxious, leading them to escape. In fact, October is the second highest month for pets to go missing (July 4th is the highest). A nervous pet may look at the open door and take the opportunity to sneak out to avoid all of the commotion. Follow these tips to keep your pet safe and calm during Halloween festivities:

  • Prepare a secure space –  Keep pets in a secure and quiet area of your home during trick-or-treating. This can help alleviate stress and prevent them from slipping out of the house inadvertently. 
  • Bring outdoor cats inside – If you have outdoor cats, bring them indoors during Halloween festivities. Depending on what day Halloween falls on, you may need to keep your cat indoors for several days. Keeping them indoors will ensure they don’t get spooked and wander away from your home area in an effort to avoid the chaos. 
  • Have a catnip pawty – Arrange a catnip party for your kitties to help keep them calm. While catnip can rev kitties up initially, it also has a calming effect that can help relieve stress. 
  • For dogs, have a frozen treat pawty – Try putting canned dog food in a hollow toy (such as a Kong) and freeze it. Once frozen, your dog will be content and engaged with their new and exciting frozen treat!
  • Arrange a candy station outdoors – Instead of the constant stressor of a ringing doorbell, create a supervised candy station outside of your home. This allows you to keep an eye on your pets and prevent them from darting out the door. 
  • Jack-o-lanterns and flames – If you’re decorating your home with Jack-o-lanterns, opt for flameless candles instead of real ones. This quick swap eliminates the risk of curious pets getting burned or knocking over candles.

Costumes considerations

Dressing up in costumes can be a lot of fun for us, but from your pet’s perspective, it can be really frightening. They may not recognize you in your costume and they definitely don’t understand that you’re dressing up for fun. 

Glow sticks & jewelry

Glow sticks and glow jewelry are popular accessories during Halloween, and if you use them, be sure to keep them out of reach from your pets. Cats are more likely than dogs to eat glow sticks and jewelry, so keep them locked away. If your cat ingests a glow stick, it can cause mouth irritation, excessive salivation and gastrointestinal problems. 

Costumes & your pet

While seeing your pet in a costume can seem adorable to you, be sure to keep your pet’s feelings front and center at all times. Following these tips can help ensure a happy Halloween for all:

  • Respect your pet’s comfort zone – Not all pets enjoy wearing costumes. If your furry friend seems distressed or uncomfortable, it’s best not to force them into an outfit.
  • Choose pet-friendly costumes – If your pet seems to embrace the idea of dressing up, opt for costumes designed specifically for animals. Ensure the costume fits well – it shouldn’t be too tight and should never cover or obstruct their vision, hearing, or breathing.
  • Carefully supervise your pet – Keep a close eye on your pet while they’re wearing a costume to prevent them from chewing or swallowing any parts. Remove small objects (like buttons) that could be quickly ingested. If you can’t supervise your pet, then remove the costume. 
  • Moderation – Test your pet’s costume out by allowing your pet to wear it for short periods of time and gradually increase the duration. This may help to prevent them from growing averse to the idea of dressing up. 

Now you are prepared to confidently go forward and celebrate Halloween with your furry family members. By keeping top hazards in mind, and putting safety first, you can enjoy all of the festivities the holiday has to offer without putting your pets at risk. Have a spooktacular and pet-friendly Halloween!