Halloween is upon us and as pets become a bigger part of our lives, more of our furry friends are also taking part in the spooky festivities, including going on trick or treats with us and dressing up. But it’s important to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable during these activities.
While Halloween can be a fun holiday, it can also potentially be stressful for your pet, particularly the continuous doorbell ringing and knocking as well as the costumes that come with holiday.
To help pet parents navigate the spooky season, the Humane Society of the US has put together five Halloween safety tips for pets.
- Halloween activity can cause stress for your pet, consider a quiet room for them
On the day of Halloween prior to the time of trick or treating, consider placing your pets in a quiet room where they will be safe from all the Halloween activity.
If your pup is likely to try to run out the front door and is comfortable in a crate, consider placing them in the crate with a treat-filled toy and some soft music playing in the background. For cats, a spritz of feline pheromone spray may help keep your cats calm. For dogs, there are also calming solutions, such as calming treats and blankets.
As far as noises go, consider minimising loud sounds by sitting outside to keep trick-or-treaters from knocking on the door or ringing the bell.
Even if you are just having friends over for a Halloween party, keep your pets away from the festivities in their safe room.
As for masks and costumes, these could change how people look and smell to a pet, so even familiar people may become frightening. Put a sign on the door to the safe room so your guests know it’s off-limits.
As for trick-or-treating, it is advised to leave your dog at home. Dogs can be easily excited by the Halloween commotion, and a bite or a lost dog will quickly end the evening’s fun.
- Be careful with Halloween candy
Prior to the day of Halloween` and during trick-or-treating, keep candy safely stashed in a high cabinet secured with a lock or child-safety latch. Many foods, such as chocolate, gum and xylitol (a sweetener used in many foods) are hazardous to pets.
If you have children, make sure they do not share their candy with your pets. Make sure they know the difference between a treat for them and a treat for their four-legged friends.
In case of an emergency, keep the 24-hour ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre hotline handy: 888-426-4435. (The hotline may charge a consultation fee.) If you suspect your pet has eaten something that’s bad for them, call your veterinarian or the Poison Control Center immediately.
Pumpkin can be good for dogs and cats, but too much can cause digestive issues. Rotting pumpkin may harbour bad bacteria; also keep jack o’lanterns safely away from becoming a holiday snack.
- Keep your pets away from dangerous Halloween decorations
Your pets can be sensitive to new changes around the house, especially with ghoulish decorations. Those skeletons and fake spiders can grab your pet’s attention and your cat might decide they want to snack on one of those fake spiders. Other decorations such as lit candles (fire hazards and toxic to birds if scented) can also pose a risk. Pets might even take a look at that fake eyeball or fake hand and decide to eat it, which can pose a choking hazard.
Other potentially hazardous decorations include glow sticks and fake blood (possible poisons), fake cobwebs (can choke or entangle pets and wildlife), potpourri (toxic to birds) and strung lights. Candy wrappers and plastic packaging could also be dangerous to your pets!
If you want to stay festive and have your pet feel comfortable around the decorations, you can create pet-friendly holiday décor! Make your cat a haunted house out of cardboard boxes or put treats and toys in a paper bag (remove any handles first as cats can get stuck) for a feline version of trick-or-treat.
- Take extra care with pet Halloween costumes
Pets can look incredibly adorable with a spooky Halloween costume, but before you buy anything for them, consider their personality and what they would be comfortable with, as well as for how long. Masks and hats may be okay for a quick photo but they can also make your pet uncomfortable and could even be dangerous. For pet costumes, the simpler they are, the better it is for them!
If you decide to dress your dog up, make sure the costume has plenty of breathing room, doesn’t cover their nose or mouth and does not have a removable part that they can chew and possibly swallow.
If your pet appears uncomfortable, take off the costume. Signs of discomfort include folded down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, a tucked tail or hunching over.
- Keep your pet safe from outdoor dangers
On Halloween, bring your pet indoors before night falls. Cats are always safest inside with you, but on Halloween it’s especially important to secure all pets inside so they don’t run away out of fear of adults and children in potentially frightening costumes.
Make sure you fit your pet with a tag with current IDs and up to date registered microchip information.
During Halloween, it’s possible that there will be a lot of opening and closing of doors which gives your pet ample opportunity to escape. An up to date ID will help reunite you with your lost pet. Furthermore, you can use up to date photos to print out flyers. Also consider a gps collar that can help you track your pet wherever they are.
Be aware that during Halloween there will be raccoons, opossums and foxes foraging for food while you’re trick-or-treating or walking from your car to a party.