You probably love to include your beloved dog or cat child in holiday celebrations, and Halloween is no exception. Those pet costumes and pumpkin-shaped treats are just too cute!

However, like most human holidays, Halloween can turn out to be more stressful than fun for your furry friend because of some unexpected hazards. Think before you mix Halloween and pets.

Halloween and Pets: Consider What’s Best For Your Furry Family Members

Do you need to shield your dog or cat from the festivities for the whole Halloween weekend? Not necessarily! If they tend to get into food or decorations they shouldn’t eat, though, the holiday can be tricky. It might be best for them to curl up in their kennel and never know Halloween happened.

Make decisions based on your individual pet’s personality so you can celebrate Halloween in a way that suits your pup or feline friend!

What are some things you need to consider?

To Costume or Not to Costume

Yes, your dog or cat might look so funny with a cape and top hat. (Who doesn’t?) But will they actually enjoy wearing these items?

Sometimes the answer is yes… and sometimes, it’s no. That’s why it’s best to test out Halloween costumes during a calm time before the festivities start. Observe your furry friend’s reaction. Do they seem stressed? Annoyed? Are they batting at the clothing to get it off their body?

If they don’t seem to mind – or even like dressing up, like Tika the Iggy – then try it out on Halloween night. But still keep them under your watch. A dog or cat wandering freely in a costume could get caught on something, tangled in the costume, overheat, or suffer injury in a myriad of other ways. 

Bottom line? To keep things safe and fun, supervise your pet when he or she wears a costume!

No Human Treats!

Halloween and pets may mix in some cases, but holiday candy is not one of those areas. 

Chocolate is a well-known food that can harm dogs. Don’t let your guard down if you have a cat either. It negatively affects felines, too!

Also, look out for a lesser known food ingredient that’s toxic to both dogs and cats: xylitol. This chemical sugar substitute is often used in low- or zero-carb candy or gum, and it can lead to liver damage or failure when ingested in high enough amounts.

Don’t Spook Your Pets

Masks can be especially scary for dogs, since they read human faces in order to know how the situation is going.

Keep Your Doors Secure

Halloween is, sadly, a big night for pet run-aways. With how often the door is opening and closing, it may be best to keep your dog or cat in a separate room, inside a pen, or within a gated area. To be on the safe side, get your four-legged family members microchipped before the big night. A microchip at Essentials PetCare includes lifetime registration and costs only $30!

An unfortunate side note: superstitions have made cats – especially black cats – a target during Halloween. Take this as further motivation to keep your cat in her own safe den on this night.

To Trick-Or-Treat Or Not To Trick-Or-Treat?

If you take your dog trick-or-treating, keep him safe with the following measures:

  • Make him him visible – with bright colors or a reflective safety vest
  • Stay vigilant against anyone who may try to feed him inappropriate treats; to be extra nice, give them dog-safe treats
  • Look out for other dogs, fast-moving kids, startling decorations, or any other elements that may surprise your dog
  • Observe when to go home – if your dog is panting with stress, don’t push him to stay out

Also remember that children can already be unpredictable for pets. Put them in a costume and give them candy, and even a calm dog can become skittish.

Candle and Jack-O-Lantern Safety

Another place where Halloween and pets don’t mix? Candles and Jack-O-Lanterns. Why?

While Halloween decorations can create quite a festive, luminous atmosphere, they often present fire hazards. Candles and jack-o-lanterns both display open flames. 

Cats may be actively enticed to play with the dancing, darting flame, especially when it’s sitting inside a fun pumpkin obstacle. Dogs can simply knock things over if they jump when excited or with their wagging tails. 

In either scenario, jack-o-lanterns or candles may take a tumble, causing burns and fire damage, large and small. It’s best to avoid this if you can by keeping any open flames away from pets – and vice versa.

Halloween Decorations Aren’t Toys

Expanding on that, you’ll want to match your house decorations to your pet’s play habits. If you know that your cat gets tempted to chew on strings of lights – which could give them an unpleasant or even fatal shock – only hang them in inaccessible areas, or perhaps skip them altogether.

Take In Your Furry Pal for a Post-Halloween Check-Up

If your pet tends to get anxious during holidays, ask your veterinarian about a safe solution for mild anxious behavior in cats and dogs. 

Essential Tip: Keep up with your furry friend’s care with a comprehensive veterinarian check-up at least once a year.