ASPCA Takes the Trick out of Halloween Treats

ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe this Halloween
September 27, 2010

NEW YORK—Keeping your pets safe on Halloween doesn’t have to be tricky. The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) offers the following tips to help pet parents avoid potential hazards as they celebrate Halloween this October.

“Many of our favorite Halloween traditions could pose a potential threat to our companion animals,” says Mindy Bough, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “As you start to make plans for trick-or-treating or Halloween costumes, pet parents should be aware of Halloween-related products and activities that can be potentially dangerous to pets.”

Here are just some of the ways animal lovers can keep their pets safe this Halloween:

  • No Sweets for Your Sweetie. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. “Chocolate, especially baker’s and dark chocolate can also be potentially poisonous to animals, especially dogs,” advises Ms. Bough. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst and urination, heart rhythm abnormalities, and even seizures
  • Watch out for those wrappers. Cats love to play with candy wrappers, but ingesting aluminum foil or cellophane can cause intestinal blockage and induce vomiting.
  • Careful with costumes! If you dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his movement, hearing, sight or ability to breathe, bark or drink. Also check the costume for choking hazards. A smart alternative to dressing your pet from head-to-paw? A simple, festive Halloween bandana.
  • Decorations can be dangerous. Re-think putting candles in Jack-O-Lanterns. Pets can easily knock these over and start a fire, and curious kittens are particularly at risk of getting burned by candle flames. Also take care to prevent your pets from having access to wires and cords from holiday decorations. If chewed, a wire can damage your pet’s mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock.
  • Trick-or-treating is for kids, not pets. During trick-or-treating hours it is best to keep pets in a room away from your front door. “Be sure that your pet has identification tags should he or she accidentally get loose,” recommends Gail Buchwald, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Onyx and Breezy Shefts Adoption Center. “Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors constantly arriving at the door, and pets may escape the safety of their home.” Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags and/or is microchipped.

If your dog or cat accidentally ingests any potentially harmful products and you need emergency advice, please consult your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (a fee applies) or