Halloween can be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. The ASPCA recommends taking these simple, common sense precautions to keep your pet happy and healthy all the way to November 1.
Stash the Treats
The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not Scruffy or Fluffy. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for cats and dogs, and sugar-free candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause serious problems in pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
While a carved jack-o-lantern certainly is festive, pets can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Many decorations that move or make noise may be especially startling for our pets. Never force your pooch to approach or "confront" a scary item. Instead, try reinforcing your pet for showing calm behavior around the scary item (reinforcing for eye contact is a great way to work around the fear).
Be Careful with Costumes
For some pets, wearing a costume may cause undue stress. The ASPCA recommends that you don’t put your dog in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. If you do dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, bark or otherwise communicate. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury. Be sure to have your pet try on the costume before the big night. Always supervise your pet when in costume, and if he or she seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting your pet wear his or her “birthday suit” or don a festive bandanna instead.
Keep Pets Calm and Easily Identifiable
Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers can often be scary and stressful for pets. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog doesn’t dart outside - a baby gate across your front door can go a long way towards keeping escapees at bay and has the added benefit of discouraging well-meaning children from reaching to pet Fido. Lastly, always make sure your pet it wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.