As you make your final preparations for the spookiest night of the year, don’t forget about your four-legged goblin. Check out these Halloween pet safety tips from Creature Comforts Veterinary Service.

#1: Keep your pet’s nose out of the candy dish

Halloween candy ingestion is a common cause for scary pet emergencies. Protect your curious cat or hungry hound by storing all candy in a closed container that you keep out of your pet’s reach. For the greatest peace of mind, do not purchase or bring home any sweet treats that contain pet-toxic ingredients, including:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, two stimulant-like ingredients that cause cardiovascular and neurologic signs. Although dark, bitter chocolate is the most dangerous, large quantities of milk chocolate can also be toxic. 
  • Xylitol — This sugar substitute, which is commonly found in sugar-free and keto-friendly candy, gum, and snacks, is toxic to dogs and can lead to rapid hypoglycemia and liver failure.
  • Raisins and grapes — Although the reasons are unclear, raisin and grape ingestion can lead to acute kidney failure in some dogs. Often, raisins are found in trick-or-treat bags, trail mixes, and granola bars, while peeled grapes, with their eyeball-like texture, find a place at the Halloween party table.
  • Macadamia nuts — Macadamia nut toxicity in dogs can cause neuromuscular signs, including muscle tremors, joint stiffness, and severe hind end weakness. 

If you know or suspect your pet has ingested a toxic candy, immediately contact Creature Comforts Veterinary Service or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline for guidance. Based on your pet’s status and what they’ve consumed, you may be advised to seek emergency veterinary care.

#2: Protect your pet from scary sights and sounds

Dogs and cats can’t rationalize Halloween’s strange sights and behaviors and, unfortunately, the change in routine, plus the steady stream of costumed visitors, can be too much for nervous or anxious pets, who may panic or escape. 

Protect your pet from accidental escape and injury by confining them to a small room, crate, or other safe space away from holiday activity. A long-lasting treat such as a frozen food-stuffed Kong or lickable treat mat can help reduce stress and create a positive distraction. If your dog is friendly, you should still keep them on a leash when greeting strangers and trick-or-treaters, for everyone’s safety. 

Ensure all pets wear a well-fitted collar with updated identification tags in case of escape. For added peace of mind, have your pet microchipped at Creature Comforts Veterinary Service—but don’t forget to register the chip number with the manufacturer’s database and to keep your contact information current. 

#3: Light up the night with a reflective pet collar

If your dog will be trick-or-treating with you, increase their visibility and safety with an illuminated collar, tag, and leash, or apply reflective tape to their costume. Ensure their collar or harness fit snugly and they can’t back out and escape. Check their identification tags, confirm that the information is up to date, and check your dog’s microchip registry profile. 

Your dog may be well socialized, but you must remember that anything can happen on a night like Halloween—a sudden noise or unfamiliar sight may transform your dog from confident to cowering. Take your dog home if their behavior or body language (e.g., panting, restlessness, shying away, lip licking, refusing to respond to known commands) change in any way.

#4: Ensure your pet’s costume is safe

Who doesn’t love a costumed pet? While no one on the Creature Comforts Veterinary Service team can resist a dachshund disguised as a hot dog, we recommend that you have a Halloween costume rehearsal before the party starts. This will ensure your pet is comfortable in their costume and not restricted or stressed—which may lead to injury or cause them to panic.

Reward your pet with praise and treats as you dress them, check the fit, and ensure the costume does not include:

  • Loose or baggy fabric (e.g., too big, long capes)
  • Tightness around the neck or chest
  • Tight leg holes or sleeves that could restrict movement
  • Hanging or dangling accessories that may be chewed or swallowed
  • Drooping hats or hoods that could impede vision

Never leave your costumed pet unattended and always monitor them for stress-related signs that may indicate discomfort. When in doubt, take off the costume and let your pet enjoy the holiday as themselves.

#5: Replace traditional decorations with pet-safe alternatives

Halloween decorations definitely set the scene for the spookiest night of the year—especially if your pet turns your display into a living nightmare. Many traditional decorations are major pet hazards, so consider substituting or removing these dangerous decorations:

  • Candles — Use battery-operated candles to avoid burns and accidental fires.
  • Glow sticks — These party favors contain dibutyl phthalate—an irritating but non-toxic substance that causes agitation, drooling, and vomiting when pets chew on the items.  
  • String lights — Cats are especially attracted to twinkling lights and may chew on the electrical cord or the small glass bulbs. Keep lights out of reach and use battery-operated strands to eliminate electrical shock risk.
  • Small gourds and figurines — Many tabletop decorations look like toys, and dogs may intentionally or accidentally eat them, creating an intestinal blockage. Keep these displays out of reach.

Prevent your Halloween hijinks from becoming a real-life horror show by taking a few extra precautions to protect your pet. And, for all your spooky and routine pet care needs, contact Creature Comforts Veterinary Service.