Halloween can be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. We recommend taking these simple, common sense precautions to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Stash the Treats
The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not Scruffy or Fluffy. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for cats and dogs, and sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems in pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) immediately.
Watch the Decorations
While a carved jack-o-lantern with a candle inside certainly is festive, pets can easily knock over a pumpkin and start a fire. Curious kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by candle flame. If using electric lights for decorations, keep wires out of reach of pets who may chew on them. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively nontoxic, but can produce stomach discomfort in pets who nibble on them.
Be Careful with Costumes
For some pets, wearing a costume may cause undue stress. We recommend that you don’t put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. If you do dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, bark or meow. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
Be sure to have your pet try on the costume before the big night. If he or she seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting your pet wear his or her “birthday suit” or don a festive bandana instead.
Keep Pets Calm and Easily Identifiable
Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and strangers can often be scary and stressful for pets. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure your pet is wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.
There are a variety of medications that can help keep your pet calm during this time, from pheromone sprays to herbal products to prescription sedatives. Let your veterinarian know if you think your pet might benefit from something to ease his stress on this night.