How to Keep Your Pets Safe on Halloween

Three Parts:General care for petsCaring for your pets at home baseCaring for a dog you've taken trick and treating

Halloween is the trick-or-treat night, when candies abound and many people may be entering your property. Whether your pet is at home or you've chosen to walk Fido while trick and treating, you must take extra safety precautions––there is an increase in pet admissions to veterinary clinics during Halloween, so it pays to be cautious.[1]

Part 1
General care for pets

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    Check that your pet's IDs are on the pet (and that microchips are in place). Also ensure that ID information is up-to-date with your latest cellphone number, address and email address. If your pet does go missing, this makes it easier to return the pet.
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    Do not feed Halloween treats to any pets. Sorry, treats are not allowed.[1] Treats are for boys and girls, not cats and dogs. Chocolate, especially, is a candy that can poison your pet, and many other treats are too high in sugar or could pose a choking hazard, such as marshmallows. Xylitol and gum, ingredients of some candies, are dangerous for pets.[1] It is best to avoid giving any Halloween treats to pets. After all, they don't know it's a special occasion and are simply happily living the day as any other, by being around you.
    • Be sure to keep all treats out of reach from pets. Put them up high, behind cupboard doors, etc.
    • Explain to children how important it is that Fido or Kitty cannot come across their treats stash and start nibbling. Ask children not to give treats to pets and to put their treats where pets cannot find them.
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    Make sure that any Halloween plants, fruits or vegetables you've chosen to put on display are not toxic. Pumpkin and corn decorations are nontoxic, but if eaten, may give your pet a mild stomachache.
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    Avoid using costumes on pets unless your pet is accustomed to being dressed. Many pets find the whole costume dressing upsetting and strange. It's an anthropomorphic desire to put pets in costumes and doesn't make the pet happy. Unless you've trained the animal from an early age to wear clothing, it's best not done. Try it on the day before, to see what reaction you get––if the pet behaves in an annoyed or frustrated way, the costume is not suitable.
    • If using a costume, ensure that it cannot harm the animal in any way. Dangling pieces can cause a pet to trip, hang or choke; fabrics can be too hot, constricting or itchy; costumes can cause injuries you haven't foreseen just by dint of restricting the animal's movements.

Part 2
Caring for your pets at home base

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    Consider placing your pet's out of the way for the evening. If your pets usually roam around the front yard or entrance areas, keep them in the backyard or inside the house for the evening. That way, you will avoid scaring the pets or having excited or scared pets rushing at trick-and-treaters and frightening the children. This also prevents any potential for bites from your pets.
    • In this case, ensure that your pet cannot get to the front door when the trick-and-treaters call. A quiet room somewhere at the back of your house is a good choice for the night.[1]
    • If your backyard is not secure, do not leave your pet there. Some pranksters take pets on Halloween night if access is easy. It is also a good idea to keep cats indoors before, during and after Halloween, especially black cats, to prevent pranksters from taking them.[2]
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    Keep an eye on your pet. If you've chosen to keep your people-loving pet at the front door, do not stop paying attention to it. If the pet seems unhappy, scared or bothered, remove it to somewhere safe. Realize that this is risky, owing to the fact that people will look unusual in their costumes, and many trick-and-treaters are liable to be loud, shouting and overly excited. This could send a pet into a frenzy of worry or excitement.
    • Leash the dog near the door, so that it cannot get past you in the doorway.
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    Do not allow trick-and-treaters to give the pet treats. Most treats are unhealthy for pets, as discussed above.
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    Keep electrical wires out of the reach of pets. Wires and cords must be a far distance from pets. They should also be taped down or put out of reach to prevent tripping from trick-or-treaters so this safety precaution serves both people and pets.
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    Take care with decorations. For example, while carved pumpkins are festive, if you choose to add a candle be careful that pets cannot knock it over and hurt themselves or start a fire.
    • Scented candles are toxic for indoor birds.[1]
    • Rubber items can present choking hazards, fake cobwebs/strung lights can entangle animals and wildlife and glowsticks and fake blood can be poisonous to pets that try to lick or chew these substances.[1]

Part 3
Caring for a dog you've taken trick and treating

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    Be guided by the temperament of your dog. If your dog hates crowds, people it doesn't know or flashing lights, loud noises and general hubbub, do not take your dog trick-or-treating. Anything could cause such a dog to react in fear and either take flight and run away or possibly bite someone.
    • Taking your dog should only be done, if at all, in quiet, small neighborhood trick-and-treating exercises. In busy, noisy and crowded streets, this is not acceptable.
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    Ensure that the dog is on a harness or leash. Do not take your dog trick-or-tricking without this. You must be able to restrain your dog quickly and effectively.
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    Be aware that many people will not appreciate a dog being brought along. If you're going onto people's properties, consider having someone hold the dog at the gate for you, or ask the owners ahead if it's okay to bring your dog into the yard. Since this is an onerous thing to do, it may be easiest leaving Fido at home.
    • You could tag team with a friend; one holds the dog, the other collects the treats. Or, ask an older sibling or a parent to come along and hold the dog for you.
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    Avoid walking the dog for too long amid crowds and Halloween decorations. The dog's senses will soon get overloaded and will need a break from all the excitement.


  • Pet costumes are another way to raise money from consumers; they're not intended to bring the pet joy. Rethink their use. Pets are already beautifully attired as they are.
  • Ask other people to be respectful of pets and animals they come across on Halloween night. Explain how scary it can be for the animals to encounter rowdy, excited and costumed human beings. Tread with care and be quieter around animals if you meet any.


  • Know the local ordinances with respect to taking your dog on the streets and into yards when trick-and-treating.
  • Do not cover a pet's eyes or nose with a pet costume.
  • It is not recommended to take your dog trick-and-treating. This is potentially harmful for the dog and possibly for people.

Article Info

Categories: Pet Hazards