Halloween is a fun night of mystery and magic for many of us, but when you consider the holiday from your pet’s perspective, the human tradition of parading around in strange clothes with spooky masks and makeup, the eerie lights and decorations, and the constant stream of strangers at your door sounds truly terrifying. Many dogs and cats find Halloween stressful and the piles of tempting treats synonymous with the holiday can be downright deadly for your four-legged friends. Read on to learn what thoughtful precautions you can take to ensure that you and your pets have a safe and enjoyable Halloween!
Safe and Secure
Even the most social pets can get spooked by all the spirited commotion on Halloween. Frequent doorbell rings and the constant opening and closing of doors mean a higher risk of your dog or cat escaping on Halloween night. You can keep your pets safe by providing a secure space in your home for them to go during the stress of trick-or-treat time. A quiet room in your house with their crate, if it gives them comfort, and some toys and treats like a stuffed kong can be just the trick to keep them busy, relaxed, and safe during the scariest part of the evening. Adding some soft music or a white noise machine will also help to drown out any spooky or stress-inducing sounds. You can take it one step further and pre-empt the doorbell by sitting outside to give out candy, intercepting the children before they reach your door. Finally, make sure that your pet’s tags and microchip information are up-to-date and that they are wearing a well-fitting collar with an ID tag, just in case the unthinkable happens and your pet slips out the door into the night.
Pet Halloween costumes have become an industry of their own in recent years, and while dressing up your pet in an adorable costume can be tempting, not all animals enjoy the experience. Before you dress your pup as a pirate or your kitty as a clown, make sure to consider their temperament and comfort. You’ll want to ensure that any costume you try doesn’t restrict their movement, breathing, or ability to see, hear, or bark/meow and that it is free of any small parts that can be chewed off or swallowed. Introduce your pet’s Halloween persona gradually before the holiday and let them get used to it, rewarding them with treats and praise for wearing the costume calmly. You might also want to consider just putting the costume on briefly for a few cute pics and removing it before it makes your pet too uncomfortable. Festive bandanas and bow ties are an excellent alternative to costumes, they are a great way to include your pets in the festivities without the possible discomfort or stress of a full costume.
While scary Halloween decorations can be a thrill for humans, they can be a real horror show for your pets. Beyond the stress these devilish displays may cause, decorations like fake cobwebs, plastic spiders, and corncobs can pose choking hazards or lead to intestinal blockages in animals. Additionally, lit candles and Jack-o’-lanterns may be great for creating a spooky atmosphere, but they are also fire hazards, particularly with a curious cat or clumsy pooch around. Pets can accidentally knock flames over and get burned, or even start a fire. Consider opting for battery-operated candles, be mindful of where you place decorations and candles, and keep a close eye on your pets when they’re around these items.
Halloween is synonymous with candy, but keep in mind that many treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate, xylitol (a sugar substitute), hard candies, and raisins can be extremely harmful and even deadly if ingested by dogs and cats. Make sure to keep all candy well out of your pet’s reach and inform any guests to do the same. Keep a sharp eye on any children in your home who may be tempted to include their favorite furry companion in the festivities by offering a sweet treat. And be diligent in your clean-up efforts as candy wrappers, if ingested, can cause serious issues like gastrointestinal irritation and obstruction. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888)426-4435 immediately.
Halloween can be a fun and festive time for the whole family, including your pets. By keeping their safety and comfort in mind, you can ensure your furry family members stay safe and enjoy the holiday. Remember to prioritize their well-being, keep harmful items out of reach, and provide a safe and quiet space for your dog or cat to go during the Halloween festivities. With a little extra care, you can ensure Halloween is just as much of a treat for your pets as it is for you!