Halloween Safety Tips for Dogs and Cats

This year, Americans will spend about $9 Billion on Halloween, and 20 percent of them will buy costumes for their pets.  More and more people are getting their furry family members in on the ghoulishly good times.  While we all love to see a wiener dog dressed as a hot dog, there are some things to consider in order to keep your pet safe during Halloween. 

Fido Friendly Fashion

If you do decide to join the masses and dress your pet in a costume, plan ahead for the big event.  Only purchase pet-friendly costumes and be mindful of ones that have excess strings or ribbons, etc. on them.  These extra frills can be chewed and swallowed, or get snagged on things.  Either way, they can be a choking hazard. 

Make sure you try the costume on your pet ahead of time, and more than once.  Do this not only to ensure a proper fit but to allow your pet to get used to the idea of wearing it.  If your pet won’t tolerate it, don’t force it.  Forcing it could make him panic or even behave badly. 

Remember also, that many costumes and accessories, and even Halloween décor can look like dog toys.  Never leave your dog unsupervised in his costume or around décor, especially If your pooch can’t resist a new toy.

Take Away Those Toxic Treats

Hopefully, by now, we all know that chocolate of any kind can be toxic to both dogs and cats.  But any sweet treat can turn their tummies whether they are made with sugar or artificial sweeteners.  In fact the artificial sweetener, Xylitol can cause disorientation, seizures and liver failure.

This year, Americans are expected to spend $2.6 Billion on Halloween candy.   That’s a lot of candy, and It can be very tempting to let your dog have a taste, but stock up on extra dog treats instead. 

Now that we have covered the dangers of candy for pets, let’s not forget about the wrappers!  $2.6 Billion worth of candy means tons of tasty smelling wrappers could be laying around to tempt your pooch.  Be sure to dispose of all candy wrappers into the trash can, preferably a covered one, and throw out pumpkins and corn decorations before they mold or rot…they can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs.

In addition, Halloween is just the beginning of the ‘Holiday Season’ and will be followed up by Thanksgiving and Christmas before we know it.  Take time to familiarize yourself with what foods can be toxic to pets and be sure to keep them out of reach.

The Big Event

If you’re planning on taking your dog trick or treating or attending a pet festival, parade or even a pet costume contest, here are some things to keep in mind so that everyone can enjoy the festivities:

  1. Please, please…make sure your dog is well-socialized and trained. If your dog gets nervous or excited around people, especially children, leave them at home.  No one can have fun around a dog that is anxious, aggressive, or just plain obnoxious.  And more importantly, your dog will be miserable as well.
  2. Keep your dog on a short leash and make sure they are wearing identification. The excitement could make him want to run and play with others and he could take off on you.  Likewise, some of the sounds, costumes and decorations could frighten him, and he could nip at someone out of fear.   Monitor your dog’s behavior and if he seems to be stressed in any way, take him home or somewhere quiet to calm down.
  3. Put some sort of reflective material on your dog. A glow stick can also be attached to his collar or costume, but make sure he can’t chew it.  Glow stick ‘glow stuff’ is not toxic, but it does taste horrible and could make your dog drool uncontrollably.  This not only keeps your dog safe from passing vehicles, but it gives those who are afraid of dogs a chance to steer clear.
  4. Make sure your dog is current on all necessary vaccines. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to carry proof of vaccines on you when you go out.  It may be required at certain events or just in case your dog does have a scuffle with another dog or person.
  5. Bring clean-up supplies. No one wants to step in your pooch’s pile.

On the Homefront

If you’re staying home on Halloween and greeting Trick-or-Treaters, keep your pets confined and away from the door.  The constant traffic at the front door gives them a perfect opportunity to bolt.  Plus, not all kids are taught how to act around dogs and keeping your dog out of the way prevents such encounters. 

Don’t leave any lit candles unattended around your pets that they could rub up against or knock over.  Don’t leave any lit candles unattended in your house…period.  That’s just asking for disaster.

Keep electrical cords tidy so your dog or cat is not tempted to chew on them.  The zombie look is good for a Halloween costume but not a permanent do. 

If you are going out but leaving your pets at home, don’t leave them in the yard.  Keep them in the house.   While Halloween is a fabulously fun holiday, it is also a time for mischief as well. 

Unfortunately, there are still people out there who would tease or be cruel to pets, or even steal them.  Ask any black cat out there.  Do you own a black cat?  Definitely keep an eye on them until Halloween is over since they have been associated with witches since the Middle Ages…sadly, some people still harbor fears.  It is for this reason that some shelters will not adopt out black cats around Halloween time.

Also, leave a radio or television on to drown out any outside noises that could frighten your pet.

Have a Happy Halloween!

…No matter how you choose to celebrate Halloween, keeping these tips in mind will ensure that both you and your pets have a safe and happy time.…and everyone around you will as well!