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Safety Tips for Halloween

Spooky monsters, loud noises, and vicious pranksters — it’s no wonder why Halloween is such a scary time of the year. However, while we humans normally delight in this annual fear-fest, this can be a dangerous time of the year for our pets. Here are some simple tips to make sure that your pet has a comfortable and safe Halloween, free from stress and harm.

Watch What They Eat

During this time of year, you need to be especially watchful over what your pets attempt to eat. For starters, pets and Halloween candy do not mix. All forms of chocolate can be dangerous for cats and dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid breathing 1. A lot of sugar-free candy also contains the naturally occurring sugar alcohol, xylitol, which in dogs, can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and consequent seizures and loss of coordination 1. Halloween candy can also present a choking hazard to your pets (like the sticks on lollipops and the plastic wrapping around most candies) 2. Play it safe and keep ALL candy out of your pet’s reach. Instead, have some pet-friendly treats on hand to satisfy your pet’s hunger and curiosity. While Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn have so far proven to be nontoxic to pets, they may still cause an upset stomach or vomiting if ingested, so they too should be kept away from pets 3.

Keep Them Sheltered

If possible, keep your pets inside. This is obvious for pets that are more timid (especially around children), but this rule applies even to social pets. With your door opening and closing all evening, revealing strangers dressed in strange clothing, the doorbell constantly ringing, and the loud chatter and screaming; your pet is likely to become territorial or anxious 2. It is best to keep them as far away from the front door as possible, preferably in a quiet, comfortable room. Pets kept in the yard, especially black cats, sometimes become the objects of cruel pranksters 1. Because of this, you should keep all pets inside on Halloween night.

Dressing Them Up

If your pet is not used to wearing clothes, then trying to force them into a Halloween costume may cause undue stress. If you know your pet loves dressing up and you decide to get them in the Halloween spirit, make sure the costume fits correctly. It shouldn’t be too tight or too loose on your pet. A well-fitted costume will not limit their ability to move, breathe, or bark/meow 4. Costumes with small parts can become a choking hazard, especially if your pet dislikes the costumes and tries to bite their way out of it. It’s best to keep it simple and tie a loose, festive bandana around their neck 3.

Make Sure They Can Get Home

As always, make sure that your pet is microchipped and wearing proper, up-to-date identification tags 4. There is never a good time for your pet to be lost, but an event like Halloween can increase the chances of your pet becoming separated from you. Proper ID is the best way to ensure that a happy reunion is in your pet’s future. You can always talk to the team at your local Total Veterinary Care® hospital about identification options for your pet.

Take-Away Points

  • Candy and pets do not mix—keep them away from one another.
  • All pets (even outdoor ones) should be kept inside on Halloween night, preferably locked in a quiet, cozy room.
  • Costumes, while cute, should be properly fitted and only worn by pets who are comfortable doing so.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped and that their ID tags are up-to-date

Sites Referenced

  1. “10 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets." PetMD. N.p., n.d. Web.
  2. "5 Ways to Keep Pets Safe on Halloween." Pet Health Zone. N.p., n.d. Web.
  3. "Halloween Safety Tips." ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web.
  4. "7 Things You Can Do to Make Halloween Safer for Your Pet." AVMA N.p., n.d. Web.