October 26, 2016

Tips on Costumes, Candy and Celebrating Safely With Your Pets this Halloween

Young dog in halloween costume

The spookiest day of the year is right around the corner! That means it’s time to pull out a bevy of treats and pick your most spook-tacular costume, but don’t forget about your four legged friends this Halloween. Like any holiday, Halloween brings with it a number of potential pet hazards and behaviors to watch out for.

At the top of this list is the ever-burning question: Are costumes really a good idea for our furry friends? We suggest putting your pet in a costume only if you’re sure he or she will enjoy it. Some pets love the limelight, while others prefer to stick to their birthday suits for all occasions.

If you decide to have your pet wear a costume, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Your pet’s festive ensemble should not constrict his or her movement or hearing, or impede their ability to breathe, bark or meow. Be sure to let your pet try on costumes in advance—and if your furry friend seems distressed, you’ll want to ditch the outfit.
  • Examine your pet’s costume and make sure it doesn’t have any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on external objects or your pet, leading to injury. Never leave a costumed pet unattended.
  • ID’s please! There are a lot of extra people on the streets for Halloween, and that combined with strange costumes can spook pets and cause them to bolt. If you take your pet out after dark, make sure he or she wears a reflective collar, is securely leashed and has proper identification attached.

But keep in mind, costumes are not the only things that present potential dangers for pets on Halloween. Experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) have shared a few additional tips for ensuring your pet’s safety:

  • Lock candy safely away. Kids love to stash candy in their rooms, but a dog's keen sense of smell will lead them to even the most cleverly hidden treasure. Contact a veterinary professional right away if your pet does get into Halloween candy, especially if it contains chocolate or is sugar-free and contains xylitol.
  • Don't leave glow sticks lying around. Glow sticks are used to help keep kids safe while they are out in the dark. Pets (especially cats) find these glow sticks to be a lot of fun as well, and the APCC commonly get calls about pets puncturing the sticks. While most of them are labeled as non-toxic, they do have an extremely bitter taste and we will often see pets who bite into them drooling and racing around the house. A little treat or sip of milk will usually stop the taste reaction.
  • Calm your pet. Even pets who are kept indoors may experience intense anxiety over the large number of strangely dressed visitors. Keeping your pet away from trick-or-treaters may do the trick, but if you think more will be needed be sure and speak with your vet well in advance about options to help calm your pet.

For more information, please check out our full list of Halloween Safety Tips.

halloween safety tips