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Life with Pets

How to Have a Safe (But Still Spooky) Halloween with Your Pets

With COVID-19, Halloween will look a bit different this year. But if you still plan to celebrate in some way, keep these pet safety tips in mind.

Whether you’re in it for the scares, silliness, or sweets, Halloween offers something fun for nearly everyone. But it also introduces certain risks for your furry family members.

Follow these simple steps to ensure an enjoyable All Hallows’ Eve experience for you and your pets.

Note: This Halloween, please practice social distancing and follow the health safety guidelines set for your area. Or better yet, celebrate virtually!

Dog in Yoda Halloween costume

Keep “treats” out of reach.

Though candy may be a Halloween treat for you, it’s certainly a trick for your pets. And a bad one at that.

You likely know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs (and cats, for that matter). But many other types of candy can make your pets sick, too. For example, a natural sugar alternative called xylitol is highly toxic to dogs—and it’s a common ingredient in “sugar-free” gum, mints, and other sweets. Even just one piece of gum or candy containing xylitol can be fatal.

So, be sure to hide human treats where your pets won’t find them. If you store your Halloween haul in a plastic bag, it’s even more important that your furry friends can’t access it because they may choke or even suffocate while trying to get the candy.

Trust us, that’s not a scare you want—even on Halloween! If your pets do get into candy or you notice signs of poisoning, call your vet immediately.

Pets with Halloween decorations

Take care with candles and other decorations.

You can’t truly celebrate Halloween without a Jack-o-Lantern and other festive decor, right? But for the safety of all, be strategic about where you place your spooky knick-knacks, especially when candles and electricity are involved. Otherwise, an enthusiastic tail or nervous chewing could be disastrous.

Also, keep in mind that some decorations (e.g., rotting pumpkins, potpourri) may pose health risks to your pets.

Dog in UPS guy Hallloween costume

Carefully consider costumes.

OK, we know pets are somehow even more adorable when dressed up like Yoda or the UPS guy. But hear us out on this one: Your furry companions may find donning a costume uncomfortable or even stressful. So, if they seem anxious about it, think about letting them just celebrate in spirit.

That said, if you decide to dress your pet up, be sure to test out the costume before Halloween. You may need to gradually desensitize your dog or cat to the getup by introducing elements of it one at a time—with lots of praise.

If your pet will be in-costume for more than a quick photo, avoid outfits that include masks (which can impact breathing and sight), small elements that could be chewed off and swallowed, or anything that may impede regular movement. And be sure to always supervise your pet when they’re in their costume.

Chocolate Lab sitting next to three pumpkins

Prevent lost pets.

Regardless of whether you dress your pet up, make sure they’re wearing identification tags—or, better yet, a GPS tracking collar—in case they happen to escape during the festivities. Due to COVID-19, you probably won’t be opening your door to trick-or-treaters this Halloween. So, there’s a lower risk than usual of your pets slipping out. But it’s better to be extra careful.

On a related note, bring your pets inside for the night. This will ensure they don’t get the heebie-jeebies from costumed passers-by and run away. Plus, they’ll be safe from any cruel intentions of pranksters—which, sadly, can be a threat on Halloween.

Cat sitting next to a Jack-o-Lantern

Accommodate anxious pets.

Halloween might be the holiday for thrills and chills. But your four-legged friends probably won’t appreciate the spooky traditions as much as you. Plus, they may get anxious if you deviate from your normal schedule and leave them at home to go trick-or-treating.

Even with proper socialization, it can be tough to prepare pets for ghosts and ghouls. And if you’ve got a protective dog, they may go into a frenzy trying to save you from the onslaught of zombies, vampires, and other frightening creatures. (At least you shouldn’t have to worry about the doorbell this year!)

If you think the creepy sights and sounds may upset your pets, set up a quiet area away from any Halloween activities to help them feel safe. And consider providing distractions—such as a peanut butter-filled Kong and some white noise.

Dog in a ghost costume for Halloween

Happy Howl-o-ween!

We hope these tips help you and your furry companions have a fun and safe (even if a bit spooky) holiday. For more pet parenting advice, check out the rest of our blog →