Halloween is a time for spooky fun, costumes, and tasty treats. While the holiday is a favorite among children and adults alike, our four-legged friends usually don’t share the same enthusiasm, and despite the fun, this holiday can be dangerous for pets. Follow our Tamberly Animal Hospital team’s pet safety do’s and don’ts to enjoy a fun and emergency-free Halloween.
DO choose a pet-friendly costume
Not all pets are keen on dressing up. Before you turn your poodle into a pumpkin or your cat into Count Dracula, assess their costume-wearing comfort level. If your pet prefers to go costume-free, opt for outfitting them with a festive bandana or collar. However, if your pet is comfortable donning a costume, be mindful of these potential hazards:
- Choking hazards — If your pet swallows a small, dangling accessory, they can choke. Remove any small pieces (e.g., buttons, ribbons) that could break off and be swallowed.
- Breathing issues — A costume that is tight around the neck or chest can restrict your pet’s breathing and movement, so choose a costume that fits just right and has no tight armholes or elastic.
- Overheating — Heavy, layered costumes can lead to overheating, especially on a warm day. Choose lightweight materials, and monitor your pet for overheating signs such as heavy panting, excessive drooling, lethargy, and incoordination.
- Obstructed vision — Avoid costumes with overly elaborate headgear that can obstruct your pet’s vision.
- Stress — Always monitor your pet when they are in costume. If your furry pal appears uncomfortable or stressed, immediately remove their garment.
DON’T bring your pet trick-or-treating
As much as you’d love for your pet to be part of the trick-or-treating adventure, Halloween night can cause them to have sensory overload. Your pet is not accustomed to the spooky noises and strangers in costumes. The chaos and unpredictability can be scary and overwhelm your pet, which can cause them to react out of fear or run away. The best place for your pet on Halloween is safe and cozy at home. Create a safe space for your pet in a quiet room, away from the ringing doorbell and excited trick-or-treaters, and include the following creature comforts:
- Comfy pet bed
- Favorite toys
- Television or calm music for background noise
- A long-lasting chew toy to distract your pet and alleviate stress
To help your pet stay calm during the night’s festivities, exercise them and give them plenty of attention during the late afternoon, before trick-or-treaters hit the streets. If your pet is particularly anxious, contact our Tamberly Animal Hospital team before Halloween, so we can determine whether an anti-anxiety medication can benefit your pet during this high-stress holiday.
DO ensure your pet has identification
While your front door is continually opening for trick-or-treaters, an overly excited or anxious pet can easily escape in the shuffle. Keep your pet away from the front door, and ensure they wear a secure fitting collar with identification tags that include your current contact information. A microchip is permanent pet identification. The tiny chip allows veterinarians and pet shelter employees to access your contact information if they find your pet. If your pet is already microchipped, ensure your contact information in the registry’s database is accurate. If your pet is not microchipped, schedule an appointment, and our team will perform this quick and easy procedure.
DON’T leave candy within your pet’s reach
As you stock up on candy for hungry trick-or-treaters—and a little for yourself—remember that many candy ingredients are toxic to pets. While all candy poses a choking hazard and elevates your pet’s blood glucose level, be aware of these especially dangerous ingredients:
- Chocolate — Especially dark and bitter baking chocolate
- Xylitol — A dangerous sweetener that may also be labeled as birch sugar
- Raisins — Plain or chocolate-covered raisins and raisin-paste candy filling
- Grapes — Peeled grapes, often used in Halloween party games as fake eyeballs
- Macadamia nuts — Found in baked goods or chocolate candies
Keep all candy stored up high and out of your pet’s reach. Remind children to refrain from sharing candy with their furry pal and to dispose of wrappers properly. If your pet consumes a toxic treat, contact our Tamberly Animal Hospital team or the Pet Poison Helpline.
DO decorate with your pet’s safety in mind
Your Halloween decorations can set a spooky ambiance but could be dangerous for a curious pet. Consider how to decorate with your pet’s safety in mind when using the following items:
- Candles — Lit candles can be knocked over, potentially causing burns or starting a fire. Consider using battery-operated candles to eliminate a fire risk.
- Cords — If your pet chews an electrical cord, they can receive an electrical shock. To prevent your pet from chewing an electrical cord, place a protective cover over any exposed cord.
- Small accessories — Fake cobwebs, plastic spiders, and small decorative items are choking hazards. To keep your pet safe, ensure that all decorations are placed securely out of reach.
By following our do’s and don’ts to safeguard your pet before the frightening festivities take place, you and your furry pal can enjoy an emergency-free Halloween. To have your pet’s microchip embedded or their anti-anxiety prescription refilled, contact our Tamberly Animal Hospital team.