Ghoulishly Good Pet Care: A Halloween Guide

Dr. Jessica Sims, Owner / Veterinarian at Oakwell Animal Hospital


Yay! It’s Halloween, the time of year when we humans transform into ghouls, goblins, and ghosts and roam the streets in search of sugary treats. It’s a spooktacular time, but let’s not forget about our furry friends who might not be as excited about the holiday as we are. Today we’re going to explore the dos and don’ts of Halloween pet ownership, complete with some furr-tastic tips to keep your pets safe and sound.

The Dos:

1. Do Choose the Right Costume for Your Pet

Let’s face it; seeing a dog dressed up as a hot dog is funny every single time! But be sure to pick costumes that won’t irritate or restrict your pet’s movement. Avoid anything with dangling parts that your pet might try to chew off and swallow. And remember, not all pets enjoy being dressed up, so if your cat gives you a death stare that could rival a vampire’s, it might be best to let them rock their natural fur coat. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a cat for Halloween (especially if you’re already a cat the other 364 days of the year)?

2. Do Keep Candy Out of Reach

We all know that Halloween is synonymous with candy, but these tasty treats are a trick for our pets. Chocolate can be toxic to both cats and dogs, and the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause severe issues. Keep candy bowls out of their reach, and be extra vigilant about candy wrappers that might find their way onto the floor – they’re like yummy pet magnets!

3. Do Create a Pet-Friendly Halloween Haven

Halloween decorations can be as enchanting as a witch’s spell, but they can also be petrifying for your pets. Jack-o’-lanterns, candles, and other decorations can pose a fire hazard, so keep them away from curious paws and wagging tails. Plus, the sound of spooky decorations might spook your pets, so consider their sensitivities when decorating your haunted house. Strings are especially dangerous for kitties, so keep your mummies and spiderwebs out of reach of Mr Meowgi. 

4. Do Prepare for the Doorbell Ringing Extravaganza

If your dog thinks that every doorbell ring is a personal invitation to a barkfest, Halloween can be a real nightmare. To keep the peace (and your sanity), consider relocating your pet to a quieter part of the house during peak trick-or-treating hours. A Kong stuffed with treats can be an excellent distraction. A bowl of candy on the stoop and a “Quiet Please!” note on the door might be the way to go for those extra sensitive fluffs. 

5. Do Keep Pets Away from Open Doors

With all the coming and going, it’s easy for pets to slip out unnoticed. To avoid a Halloween horror story, make sure your pets are securely confined and double-check that your doors are closed properly. It’s not just a matter of safety; it’s also a matter of keeping your pet’s costume a surprise for the big reveal!

The Don’ts:

1. Don’t Force Your Pet into a Costume

While we can’t deny the cuteness of a pug dressed as a pirate, not all pets are cut out for costumes. If your pet resists, don’t force it. Halloween should be a fun experience for both of you, not a stress-inducing ordeal. Respect their feelings and maybe try a festive bandana instead. Slow introductions to their costume and lots of positive reinforcement (treats, praise, and more treats are the name of the game here) may bring some pets around to loving their spooky attire, but the key is to go at your pet’s pace.

2. Don’t Leave Your Pet Unsupervised

Halloween might be one of those holidays where it’s best to hang out with your pet. Candy, decorations, and strangers can be overwhelming, and your presence can provide comfort and security. Besides, your pet’s costume deserves an appreciative audience!

3. Don’t Share Halloween Candy

As tempting as it may be to share your candy corn or chocolate bars with your four-legged friend, don’t do it! Some Halloween candies can be toxic to pets, and even small amounts can lead to big problems. Instead, treat your pet to some pet-friendly Halloween-themed pet treats – they’ll appreciate the thought!

4. Don’t Let Pets Near Lit Candles

Candles can create a spooky atmosphere, but they also pose a significant hazard to curious pets. Opt for battery-operated candles in your jack-o’-lanterns and decorative holders. This way, you can enjoy the eerie ambiance without the fear of Fido becoming a fire-breathing dragon.

5. Don’t Skip ID Tags and Microchipping

Halloween is one of those times when unexpected things can happen. Pets can get scared and bolt or become accidentally separated from their owners. To avoid a pet detective scenario, make sure your furry friend is wearing an ID tag with updated contact information, and consider microchipping them for an extra layer of protection.

Tips for a Spooktacularly Safe Halloween:

  • Plan a Pet Playdate: If your pet doesn’t enjoy the chaos of Halloween, consider arranging a playdate with a fellow pet owner for a fun and quiet night in.
  • Watch Out for Costume Hazards: Avoid costumes with small, dangling, or easily chewed-off parts that could pose a choking hazard. And always supervise your pet when they’re wearing a costume.
  • Be Wary of Noisy Decorations: Some Halloween decorations emit eerie sounds that can frighten your pets. Keep them away from noisy decorations, or consider using them sparingly.
  • Keep Glow Sticks Away: Those glow sticks and jewelry might look tempting, but the liquid inside can be toxic to pets if ingested. Keep them out of reach.
  • Pet-Approved Treats: If you want to treat your pet during Halloween, consider pet-friendly options like pumpkin or peanut butter treats specially made for them.
  • Maintain a Routine: Stick to your pet’s usual routine as much as possible. Feeding, walks, and playtime should remain consistent to minimize stress.
  • Create a Safe Space: If your pet becomes overwhelmed, provide a quiet, safe space where they can retreat to relax and decompress.
  • Monitor Behavior: Keep an eye on your pet’s behavior during and after Halloween festivities. If they display unusual symptoms or behavior, consult your vet.
  • Don’t Forget the Fun: Halloween can be an enjoyable time for pets too! Engage in pet-friendly activities like carving pet-safe pumpkins, taking festive photos, or having a spooky movie night together.

In conclusion, Halloween can be a real treat for pet owners and their furry companions as long as we do our part in responsible pet ownership during this spooktacular season. With a little planning and consideration, we can ensure that Halloween is a howling good time for everyone – humans, pets, and even the ghostly neighbors next door. So, let’s celebrate this spooky holiday with our pets by our side, wagging tails and all, and keep the scares where they belong – in the decorations and costumes, not in our pets’ safety. Happy Halloween, pet lovers!

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