Halloween is around the corner. Pumpkin spice scent will fill the air, jack-o’-lanterns will be on every doorstop, and trick-or-treaters will be out in force, dressed in their most outlandish costumes. While this holiday provides hauntingly good fun for children and adults, your pets can be in danger if you don’t take precautions. Our team at Palmer Veterinary Clinic would like to provide tips to help safeguard your pet during the frightening festivities.

#1: Ensure your pet has appropriate identification

During the excitement, your pet may become spooked and sneak out when everyone is distracted. To help ensure your pet will be returned should they go missing, consider having them microchipped, to provide permanent identification that can’t be lost. This simple procedure can easily be performed at their next wellness visit. They should also be wearing a collar and identification tags with your current contact information. 

#2: Create a safe zone for your pet

As costumed trick-or-treaters arrive at your door, your pet may become frightened and try to run away, or become aggressive toward the scary new arrivals. Confine them in a crate or an interior room in your house, so they don’t become stressed or scared. Ensure they have water, and distract them using a food-puzzle toy to keep their attention focused on something pleasurable. Never leave your pet outside on Halloween night, because pranksters may tease or injure vulnerable pets left out to fend for themselves. Black cats are especially at risk of being targeted.

#3: Do not feed your pet Halloween candy

Trick-or-treat candy is not for pets. Small, hard candies can be a choking hazard, and foil candy wrappers can cause intestinal obstruction, which may require surgery. Also, several items found in the candy dish are toxic to pets, including:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be deadly for dogs and cats. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and death.
  • Xylitol — This ingredient is commonly found in sugar-free candy. If ingested, xylitol can cause an extreme drop in a pet’s blood glucose, leading to incoordination and seizures. 
  • Raisins — No one likes to get raisins in their trick-or-treat basket, but don’t give them to your pets, because they can cause kidney failure in pets. 
  • Nuts — Some nuts, such as macadamia nuts, are toxic to pets, but all nuts are high in fat, and can cause gastrointestinal upset and possibly pancreatitis.

If your pet ingests a poisonous substance, immediately call Palmer Veterinary Clinic or Animal Poison Control.

#4: Ensure your pet’s costume is safe

If your pet seems frightened or stressed when you put them in a costume, listen to their signals, and forget the costume. If your pet is amenable to being dressed up, avoid injury by ensuring the costume:

  • Fits well, and is not too loose or too tight
  • Does not limit your pet’s mobility
  • Does not obstruct your pet’s breathing, vision, or hearing
  • Does not hinder your pet’s ability to vocalize
  • Has no loose or dangling pieces that could be choking hazards

Do not wait for Halloween night to try on your pet’s costume. Several days or weeks in advance, dress them in their costume for a short period, and gradually increase the time until the big night arrives. Provide treats and praise to make the experience positive. You should never leave your pet unattended when they are wearing a costume, to ensure no problems arise.

#5: Protect your pet from dangerous Halloween decorations

Halloween decorations are fun, but they can be a potential threat for your pet. Considerations include:

  • Jack-o’-lanterns — A curious pet can easily knock over a lit jack-o’-lantern while they are investigating, which could cause serious burns, or set a fire.
  • Loud or flashing decorations — Halloween is the perfect time to scare your neighbors with moving, creepy monsters and skeletons, but these decorations can cause extreme anxiety and distress for your pet.
  • Dry ice — If your pet investigates the smoking cloud’s source, the dry ice could damage their skin.
  • Glow sticks — These devices are great to keep children safe when navigating dark streets, but do not let your pet chew them. They aren’t toxic, but they have a bitter taste that can distress your pet, and cause excessive drooling. If your pet is affected, offer them a treat or milk to help eliminate the taste.
  • Festive lights — Some pets can’t resist chewing on wires. Keep electrical wires away from your pet, to prevent them from getting shocked.

#6: Keep your pet leashed

If you do take your dog out on Halloween night, keep them on a reflective leash, and ensure they are wearing proper identification. If they become nervous because of the commotion, take them back home as soon as possible.

Your Halloween fun does not have to be curtailed, as long as you follow these tips to ensure your pet stays safe and unafraid. If you would like to have your pet microchipped before the ghoulish gaiety, do not hesitate to contact our team at Palmer Veterinary Clinic to schedule an appointment.