Trick or Treat and Your Pets

Halloween is a time of fun and excitement for children, adults and even pets. However, for many family pets it is also a time filled with stress, fear and anxiety. While dressing up is fun for people, sometimes dogs and cats can become scared by face make-up and costumes, causing them to react in a frightened manner. To ensure a safe and fun Halloween for your pets, family, and your trick-or-treaters, considers the following options for Halloween pet safety:

Prior to the arrival of trick-o-treaters:
Take Your Dog for a Walk: By doing so, your dog will burn off some extra energy and feel slightly more relaxed before the evening begins.

During and After Halloween events:
Contain your dog and cat inside the house in a room where you can close the door. Crates are recommended for dogs who are comfortable in them. Dogs need to feel secure while also protecting their domain. To ensure a safe evening for your family and trick-or-treaters, consider crating your dog with his favorite blanket and soft chew toys. Place your cat in a separate room, with the door closed.  With the front door opening and closing frequently to trick or treaters, a cat and/or small dog can easily run out the front door. Be sure to leave plenty of food, water and toys to keep your dog or cat occupied and re-assure them often by visiting the room.

Backyard/Outside: We strongly recommend your dog not be permitted to roam through the backyard as this may disturb or frighten trick-o-treaters approaching your home. Additionally, the dog may become highly frustrated and anxious as the number of individuals entering your premises and, unfortunately, in rare cases, the dog may suffer injury or harm as they may try to dig under or jump the fence. Outside, cats may become disoriented with all of the hustle, bustle and noise and are more likely to run away and become lost.

Place All Candy Out of Reach: Because chocolate can be fatal to dogs and cats, remove all candy out of their reach. Additionally, be sure all candy wrappers and foil are discarded properly as wrappers and foil can result in intestinal blockage or suffocation if your pet consumes it. If you suspect your pet ate any amount of candy or digested wrappers, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Decorations: Because dogs can be overly excitable during the Halloween events, it is highly recommended that all Halloween decorations be removed from any area in which the dog may come in contact. Of particular concern are items which the dog may hit with a wagging tail or candles which may have been lit through the night.

As always, please make certain that your pets are always wearing identification tags!

Halloween Factors to Consider:

  • People in costumes. Even familiar friends and beloved family members can be frightening to a pet when in costume. Or, your pet may mistake a costume for a toy and tug a young child right off his or her feet!
  • Costumes for pets. Nothing is cuter than a pup or kitty in costume, but be sure the costumes are safe! Tight fitting costumes (with or without elastic) can be a choking hazard. Loose pieces can be chewed off or swallowed, causing an intestinal obstruction that needs expensive surgery to correct.
  • Open doors. Don't open the door if your pet is nearby and can escape. Even the best behaved pet can become confused or agitated with a lot of children coming and going on Halloween. Make sure your pets are wearing collars with ID tags and current rabies tags — just in case they make a break for it through an open door.
  • Unusual noises. Laughing trick-or-treaters, people screaming when they get scared — these can make your pet anxious and unsettled. A frightened dog can snarl or snap at strangers or friends.
  • Candles. Keep an eye on lit candles, especially when your pets are around. A curious cat can burn a paw or tail on a lit candle.
  • Mischief makers. Local troublemakers may be out in full force smashing pumpkins, wrapping houses in toilet paper, yelling and/or tossing eggs at cars. If your pets are left outside unattended, this could be especially frightening to them.