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Pet Safety Tips for Halloween

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Pug dressed in a red Halloween costume with a hood

From witches and ghosts to vampires and skeletons, Halloween is a time for fun and fright. But the scary parts should never come at the expense of your furry family members. How can you protect your pal from the extra dangers lurking nearby?

Food Safety

Most people have heard that chocolate can be harmful to dogs. However, this sweet treat can be dangerous to both dogs and cats. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high blood pressure, seizures and other unpleasant symptoms. Chocolate poisoning can even be fatal in rare cases.

Additional foods to keep away from your pal include:

  • Sugar-free candy containing xylitol – This can lead to a drop in blood sugar, loss of coordination, and seizures in dogs (effects are not known in kitties, so better safe than sorry!)
  • Grapes and raisins – These healthy Halloween treats can cause kidney damage and even kidney failure in dogs.
  • Pumpkin seeds – These salty snacks are not toxic but can lead to tummy upset in small animals.

If you have human Halloweeners in your home, it’s a good idea to store their trick-or-treat candy up high and in a closed container. Remember, most pet pals are excellent hunters. If food is within reach, they will sniff it out. Keep an eye out for candy wrappers, too. Swallowing these papers or foils can irritate or even obstruct your li’l buddy’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

It’s important to act fast if you think your dog or cat has ingested something they shouldn’t have. Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or contact your veterinarian right away.

cat dressed as a bumble bee

Costume Checklist

Some pets enjoy wearing clothing, while others feel stressed out by it. If you’re sure your furry friend is up for it, you can help avoid incident or injury by making sure their costume:

  • Fits well (not too loose or too tight)
  • Does not limit mobility
  • Won’t obstruct breathing, vision, or hearing
  • Does not hinder your pet’s ability to bark or meow
  • Is free of choking hazards (loose, dangling, or easily chewed pieces)

Even if your doggie or kitty is used to wearing clothing, it’s a good idea to try their costume on prior to the big night. Your pal will need some time to get used to the costume before they are surrounded by all the extra people and the excitement the holiday brings. If your pet seems at all uncomfortable during your dress rehearsal, it’s probably best to ditch the costume.

Decoration Dangers

Seasonal décor can spruce up your home, but it can also lead to potential pet hazards. Be especially careful with:

  • Jack-o-lanterns – Curious kitties and puppies may knock these over and cause burns or fires.
  • Loud or flashing decorations – These may startle your li’l buddy or cause anxiety.
  • Twinkling lights – Keep tempting wires are away from pet pals who like to chew.
  • Dry ice – This can damage your pet’s skin.
  • Glow sticks – Though not toxic, glow sticks have a bitter taste that can upset your furry friend and cause distress. Hint: try giving your pal a treat or some milk to get rid of the taste!

You might also want to stay away from plastic skeletons and spiders, cobwebs, or other decorations that have small components your dog or cat could swallow.

dachshund dressed as a hot dog on a leash

Lost Pet Prevention

It’s not uncommon for our canine and feline companions to feel anxious during trick-or-treat time. After all, the doorbell is ringing all night, and strangers dressed in bizarre clothing are coming and going.

Before Trick-or-Treating

Double check that your li’l buddy is wearing their proper, up-to-date identification (collar with ID tags). If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, the holiday season is a good time to consider it.

As a safety measure, you may want to prepare a list of emergency numbers to keep in plain sight, including:

  • Your veterinarian
  • 24-Hour emergency pet care center
  • Your local animal shelter
  • The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

During Trick-or-Treating

Consider keeping your pet in a separate room away from the front door. If you do have your pal close by, pay them extra attention and make sure they don’t try to dart when the door opens. Even dogs and cats who are typically friendly with strangers can get spooked on Halloween.

Taking your pooch out for a festive evening walk? Use a reflective leash and, of course, check again that they are wearing proper ID.

chocolate lab dressed as a bat with his tongue out

Say Cheese!

When the big day comes, you’re bound to want to capture the moment – especially if your furry friend is wearing an adorable costume! Here are a few tips to help you take great pet pictures:

  • Snap your pics before dark – Halloween is usually an evening celebration but bright, diffused natural light makes for the best photos.
  • Focus on their eyes – I’m sure the costume is amazing, but your pet’s facial expressions are the real star.
  • Move slowly and quietly – If you’re attempting different angles, try not to startle your pet.
  • Get on their level – Get down on your knees, or even your tummy, to catch some sweet close-ups.

Just remember that no matter how prepared you are for the holiday, accidents can still happen. An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help cover the cost associated with your pal’s care. Is your pet covered? Get a quote today!


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