It’s that time of year again – Halloween is in the air, and many people (whether young or young at heart) are looking forward to celebrating with costumes, treats, and decorations. It’s important to remember however, that many of the things that make this holiday so much fun for pet parents can actually be scary, or even dangerous, for our four-legged friends.
Here are a few Halloween pet safety tips to make sure that your furry family members stay safe and secure throughout the festivities.
Keep Candy Out of Reach
Remember, many of the delicious treats that you look forward to enjoying on Halloween are toxic to pets. Chocolate and xylitol (the sweetener found in some candy and gum) are especially dangerous. Tinfoil or cellophane wrappers are also hazardous if swallowed.
Never leave a bowl of candy out where a pet with a sudden attack of the munchies could get to it. Make sure that children understand that Halloween treats should never be shared with animals. If you suspect that your pet has ingested something harmful, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 ( a fee applies).
If your pet is a real ham, he may love wearing a costume. However, dressing up can be traumatic for dogs or cats who have a strong preference for their birthday suits. Pets who are upset by wearing a full costume are sometimes more comfortable in a simple bandana or other minimal accessory. If your pet shows any sign of distress when trying on a costume, don’t force him to wear it no matter how cute it is!
Even for pets who love getting dressed up, there are still a few things to consider. Costumes should never have decorations that could be chewed off and swallowed. They should not constrict the animal’s movement, hearing, or sight. Even the sweetest animals can get snappy when they can’t see! And costumes should never impede their ability to breathe, drink, bark, meow, or walk.
The Dangers of Decorations
Even decorations that are considered non-toxic (like corn or pumpkins) can still cause gastrointestinal upset if your pet decides to eat them. They can also be choking hazards or cause intestinal blockage if Fido or Fluffy ingest large enough pieces.
If your Halloween landscape includes lights or other electrical decorations, you run the risk of your pet chewing them. If this happens, he could damage his mouth on shards of glass or plastic or even receive a dangerous electrical shock. To protect pets from this danger, make sure to keep wires and cords out of reach.
A carved pumpkin is a popular Halloween tradition, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames. Never leave a pet unsupervised around fire.
Keep Pets Inside
Sadly, there are pranksters who will tease, injure, steal, or even kill pets on Halloween. The safest place for your pets (especially if your family includes a black cat) is inside.
If you plan on entertaining trick-or-treaters, keep pets in a part of the house away from the door. The sight of lots of strangers in costumes is potentially frightening for all but the most easy going of animals. In addition, an open door gives them ample opportunity to dart out and get lost.
Before Halloween, make sure that your pet’s ID tags are up to date. If you haven’t already, you might also want to look into microchipping. If for any reason your furry family member does make an escape and becomes lost, a collar and ID increase the chance that you’ll get him back quickly.
With a little planning and some practical precautions, your whole family can enjoy a safe, and not-so-scary, Halloween