Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners


No scaredy-cats allowed.

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families.  But to a lot of pets it can be a downright nightmare.  Forgo the stress and dangers this years with these tips.  

1.  Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets.

All forms of chocolate--especially baking or dark chocolate--can be deadly for dogs and cats.  Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, increased heart rate, and seizures.  Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs.  Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, an subsequent loss of coordination and seizures.  And  while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it's better to be safe than sorry.

2.  Don't leave pets out in the yard on Halloween

Surprisingly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal and even kill pets on Halloween night.  Inexcusable?  Yes! But preventable nonetheless.

3.  Keep pets confined and away from the door

Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy.  This, of course, is scary for our furry friends.  Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxious and growl at innocent trick-or-treaters.  Putting your dog or cat in a secure room, away from the front door, will also prevent them from darting outside into the night...a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

4.  Keep your outdoor cats inside several days before and several days after Halloween

Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents.  In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution.

5.  Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach

Although they are relatively nontoxic, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities.  Intestinal blockage can even occur if large pieces are swallowed.  And speaking of pumpkins...

6.  Don't keep lit pumpkins around pets

Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking them over and catching the house on fire. 

7.  Keep wires and electric light cords out of reach

If chewed, your pet could cut himself  or herself on shards of glass or they could substain life-threatening electrical shock.  

8.  Don't dress your pet in costume unless you know they will love it

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn't annoying or unsafe.  It should not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe or bark or meow.  Try on pet costumes before the big night.  If they seem distressed, allergic or show abnormal behavior, consider letting them go in their "birthday suit".  Festive bandanas usually work for party poopers, too.

9.  ID's please!

If you dog or cat should escape or become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that they will be returned. Make sure they have their current Rabies tag and an ID tag on their collar.  Just make sure the information is up-to-date, even if your pet does have one of those fancy-schmancy microchips.