Keeping your pets safe on Halloween

“Easy, little guy, it’s just the doorbell…”

Halloween just isn’t Halloween without trick-or-treaters, bags full of candy, and glowing jack-o’-lanterns, but to your pet these holiday essentials can be downright frightful — even fatal.

By taking a few precautions, you can ensure a happy Halloween for everyone in the family, pets included. (And if you have a pooch that wants to dress up for the occasion, don’t miss our favorite dog costumes.)

  • Chocolate is hazardous to dogs, so be sure to keep the candy bowl out of reach. If your pet discovers the bowl, he’s likely to consume a large quantity of chocolate since it’s all sitting in one easily accessible place. Candy wrappers and foils can be also be hazardous if swallowed, as intestinal blockage may occur. If you discover your dog has devoured the candy bowl contents, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435).
  • Keep pets safely inside, rather than out in the yard. The noise and commotion from trick-or-treaters might spook your pet, and there is always the risk that pranksters may release your pet from the yard. This is especially important for black cats, as they are often specifically targeted for torment or abuse on Halloween.
  • The constant ringing of the doorbell may overly excite or frighten your pet, and the frequent opening of the door provides him with the opportunity to escape. It’s a good idea to keep your dog contained in an area where he can’t easily make a run for it. (Keep ID tags on him, just in case.) This also keeps your pet safely away from trick-or-treaters, who he may not react kindly to out of fear.
  • Lit pumpkins and wagging tails do not go hand in hand. Keep pumpkins out of reach to prevent burns and fires (not to mention smashed pumpkins). If consumed in large quantities, pumpkins can cause stomach issues and intestinal blockage.
  • If you have a dog who’s dressing up this year, make sure he is comfortable in his costume. He may look cute in it, but remember that he’s a living animal, not a dress-up doll, and any restriction of movement or breathing is a bad sign. Check to make sure there are no loose parts that could get caught and strangle him, and that there is nothing on the costume he can try to eat. Don’t leave your dog unsupervised while he has his costume on.