Updated - Oct 19th, 2022
It’s Halloween and festivities are in full swing. There’s candy to give out, decorations to be set, costumes fully assembled, and trick-or-treaters ready to ring your doorbell. With so much going on, your pet may not be the first thing on your mind – but Halloween does present a few hazards to your pets. it’s wise to take a few precautions for your furry friends this spooky season.
After all, an emergency vet trip is the last thing anyone wants. Curious pets may be extra keen to get into areas they shouldn’t, like candy, decorations, or lit candles inside of jack-o-lanterns.
Get ahead of the following pet hazards this spooky season with our safety tips.
- Keep your pet away from chocolate (or any other human Halloween treats!)
- Beware of artificial sweetener, xylitol, which is highly toxic for dogs.
- Candy wrappers can present a choking hazard.
Chocolate, gummies, and chews, oh my! Candy is one of the best parts about the Halloween season – as long as it stays away from your pets.
Halloween candy, while delicious, is not so nutritious for pets. Chocolate and sugar-free candy in particular are toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener in sugar-free candies like lollipops, is extremely toxic to dogs and cats and should not be ingested. Cupcakes or other tempting Halloween treats containing baking chocolate should also be kept away from areas your pet might find accessible.
Another important candy-related pet hazard to remember is candy wrappers. Dogs and cats may be attracted to shiny wrappers, causing a risky game that could result in the ingestion of a foreign object. Candy wrappers are choking hazards, and can cause serious health issues for your pet if ingested. The intestinal tract is not meant to process foreign objects like candy wrappers or small plastic toys. Be sure to keep Halloween baskets out of your pet’s reach.
If your pet does happen to get into candy, treats, or wrappers, contact your emergency veterinarian right away, or call the Pet Poison Helpline. If you’re unsure whether your pet ingested candy, be sure to monitor them for signs of drooling, pacing, vomiting, or diarrhea.
- Pet Halloween costumes are adorable, but may not be suitable for all pets. They can cause anxiety and stress!
- Buttons, appliques, and string can present choking hazards.
Costumes, while absolutely adorable on pets, may cause unexpected issues. The first hazard to remember about Halloween costumes around pets are any small buttons, appliques, or bits of string that a curious pet might try to play with and accidentally ingest.
Along with the possibility of an unexpected choking hazard, you should also note that costumes may cause additional stress for anxious pets. While you may enjoy dressing your pet up for Halloween, they may feel differently. Keep in mind that pets may become overstimulated by fabric from pet costumes and exhibit stressed behavior as a result.
Certified applied animal behaviorist Dr. Janet Cutler Ph.D., offers some valuable advice on the subject of pets and Halloween costumes:
“Dressing up your pet could result in anxiety or stress in your pet. While many pets might not be bothered at all, there are many who could show signs of distress. This includes trying to escape, or even the opposite where your dog or cat may lie down and not want to move at all. Watching your pets’ ears is important too – typically, dogs and cats will pull their ears back and down when experiencing stress or anxiety. If you’d like to try getting your pet into a costume for Halloween, then starting early is your best bet. Get them used to different elements of the costume slowly and give treats throughout to make it a good experience. You also don’t want to leave your pet unattended with a costume on in case they get stuck trying to remove it or ingest part of it.”
If you’re really hoping to dress your pet up for Halloween, you may want to try introducing costumes slowly and over time. Start out with a simple bandana or bow-tie collar attachment, and work your way up from there.
Be sure to keep decorations out of your pet’s reach! Some common hazards are:
- Chewed up glow sticks
- Swallowed faux spider webs
- Knocked over Jack-o-lanterns or lit candles
- Swallowed small plastic decorations
Halloween decorations are scary – but your pet getting into them can be scarier.
From small plastic decor items, to faux spiderwebs, to fog machines, there are many decor-related hazards to remember when decorating your pet-friendly home for Halloween.
Remember that small items are choking hazards, so be sure to place any tiny decorations out of your pet’s reach. This also rings true for decor-related items such as electrical cords, which could also be a potential fire hazard if your dog or cat chews them up. Jack-o-lanterns with lit candles are another fire hazard, and should be kept out of reach of curious pets. Glow sticks and glow jewelry may also intrigue your pet, resulting in the chewing and ingestion of toxic chemicals used inside of glow sticks.
- The constant ringing of your doorbell by spooky strangers may make your pet anxious or scared. Keep an eye on their body language!
- You may run the risk of your pet running out the front door if you don’t keep them contained.
The last thing anyone wants during Halloween night is a lost pet, which is especially important to remember while passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. To help keep your pets safe while passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, you might want to keep them in a separate and secure area of the house, with access to fresh water, food, and a litter box if applicable.
Dr. Cutler seconds this opinion:
“The biggest risk for your pet when there are trick-or-treaters visiting is that they will cause fear in your pet. This could mean that your pet runs to hide, and there is a risk with the door opening often when you’re handing out candy that your pet could run out while fearful. It’s recommended to keep your pet away from all the action. This can keep them away from the dangers of open doors and the risk of them being very frightened from all the Halloween action. Having them closed in a room away from the action is recommended, and having a TV, radio, or white noise on to drown out some of the sound can be helpful. You can also keep your pet busy with food puzzles or food-dispensing toys.”
Keeping your pets safe and secure during a Halloween party or trick-or-treating is a great way to ensure a successful and fun night for you and your furry family members. If left to their own devices, a curious or stressed dog or cat may try to escape from an open door during trick-or-treating. Be sure that your pet is equipped with an ID tag and microchip if you plan to leave them around open doors.
Keep your pets safe this Halloween by reducing potential hazards such as decor, candy, and costumes. Halloween should be a fun event for everyone involved – pets included! By getting ahead of these Halloween dangers, and you can set your fur family up for a stress-free holiday.And if you’re looking for a little extra protection this spooky season, pet insurance can help when the unexpected happens. Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans can help cover 90% of eligible vet bills during Halloween and beyond.