Halloween Safety Tips for Dogs & Cats
Halloween can be a ton of fun for us - but it can be one big fright for your dog or cat. With these Halloween safety tips, you'll be on your way to a safe & spooky October.
Halloween can be a frighteningly fun festival for most of us. But for our pets, it might just be one big, nasty fright instead. So if you’re a dog or cat parent, you might find them tangled in your decorations, hiding away from any partygoers at home, paralyzed with fear – or bolting out of your door the minute you open it for some trick or treaters. But with these practical Halloween safety tips, you’ll be on your way towards a safe, spooky October holiday in no time. Let’s dive right in.
Table of contents
- Halloween safety tips for your pets
- Pick pet-friendly Halloween decorations
- Avoid fitting Halloween costumes for your pets
- Keep your pets away from the Halloween candies
- Never leave your pets unsupervised during parties
- Let your pets know it’s you behind the costume.
- Watch the door when the trick or treaters come knocking
- Fix up your outdoor Halloween decor
- Get your pet some exercise before the Halloween party
- Be extra careful when walking your dog on Halloween night.
- Can I leave my dog or cat home alone for Halloween?
- Our ultimate Halloween safety tip: Track your pet’s location
- Have a safe spooky season this year – with these Halloween safety tips for your pet
Halloween safety tips for your pets
Halloween can be a frightening night for our dear four-legged friends. But have you ever wondered why? Well, there can be an overwhelming mix of elements that may lead to your pets getting scared:
- Your new, creepy indoor decor
- The odd costumes
- The large number of strangers coming to the house
- Loud noise (like fireworks)
- All the festivities in general
Dogs and cats are naturally curious by nature. So it’s more likely they might find themselves in some precarious situations once you start spooking up your indoor decor, figuring out costumes and candy – and writing out your guest list. So here are a couple of Halloween safety tips for a pet-friendly October.
Pick pet-friendly Halloween decorations
Halloween decorations can be pretty tempting for your dog or cat. With their love for sniffing around, climbing, or investigating, it’s likely you’ll find a fake cobweb or plastic spider at the mercy of their claws. Or you might find them making a mess of your Halloween pumpkins – which might even increase the risk of a fire hazard if you’re using candles inside.
- Opt for LED lights inside your jack-o’-lanterns. Your pets might knock over candles, which might injure them – or even start a fire.
- Invest in sturdy Halloween decorations. Avoid fragile pieces your dog or cat might break (or swallow) by accident. Or if they do break, go for materials that won’t break into small pieces.
- Avoid decorations that dangle or have quick flashing lights. Slow gleaming fairy lights are fine, but anything faster might just stress out your pets.
- Fasten your decorations to hard to reach places. This can prevent your cat from jumping towards them or scratching them. They might try to climb or play with these, which can lead to accidents or damage.
- Be extra careful of any electrical cords. Your pet might chew on these and end up getting shocked by accident. We’d recommend using cord protectors or just hiding them out of reach.
If all else fails, you could try and stick your decorations in place with clear tape. Just make sure your dog or cat doesn’t end up scratching the paint off your walls trying to get to them.
We’d also recommend you take a few minutes to read the back of any decoration product labels. You want to make sure you’re not hanging up, say, fake cobwebs that might be toxic for your pets if they ingest it by mistake.
Avoid fitting Halloween costumes for your pets
While pretty darn adorable, your pets might object to being forced into dressing up this spooky season. Some dogs and cats may not care about what you put on them, while others react very negatively to wearing a costume. So to keep them safe this October:
- Avoid costumes that have too many dangling pieces. (Like strings, buttons, ribbons, or other easily-scratchable bits.) Your cat, for example, might injure themselves trying to claw their way out of an uncomfortable costume. Or accidentally swallow a loose, dangling piece by accident.
- Avoid putting your pet into a costume you might have painted. Paints can be toxic for pets if they lick them by accident. Or they might end up with a skin allergy instead.
- Avoid costumes (like hats) which you’d need to strap on to your pet’s fur. It might just irritate them instead and lead them to claw and bat at it to get it off. Which might end up injuring them instead.
- Avoid masks or shoes, which might stress out your pet from any mobility restrictions.
If you’ve found a comfortable costume (like a kid’s-sized top), start by introducing it to your pet first. If your dog whines or your cat hisses or bats at you when you’re trying to fit them into any costume, it might be better to let them attend this Halloween au naturel.
Good to know: Some costumes can easily obstruct your pet’s vision, breathing or movement. We’d recommend you avoid all such pieces of clothes.
We’d also recommend never leaving your costumed pet unsupervised. You want to be able to intervene if they get a paw or their head stuck somewhere or generally seem in distress.
Keep your pets away from the Halloween candies
Yes, it looks good and no, you can’t have it! While it’s tempting to let your pets in on the Halloween fun, Halloween candies are generally a no-no.
Candy is dangerous for dogs and cats, and chocolate can be fatal, since it contains Theobromine, which can cause nerve damage and even death. Theobromine is not really dangerous for people because we would have to take an extremely high dose of chocolate before even a weak poisoning occurs. For pets, however, it is easier to eat enough chocolate to be poisoned.
Cats also don’t even like sweet flavors.1 (Their taste buds weren’t built to handle them.) So if you’ve ever seen them trying to grab a lick of ice cream or Halloween candy, it’s because they’re more tempted by the smell of fat instead.
Secondly, in general, ingesting sugar isn’t the best option for keeping your pet healthy. Their digestive systems aren’t designed to absorb them effectively – so you might see them vomit or make an emergency run to the litter box. Cats are also sensitive to food allergies, which might overstimulate their immune systems and cause them to experience discomfort and pain instead.
Most Halloween candies also contain ingredients like xylitol, which can be fatally toxic for your dog or cat. So make sure neither you nor your Halloween guests are coaxing your cat into eating something potentially poisonous and harmful to their health.
Additionally, don’t forget to throw away all candy wrappers before your four-legged friends get to them, since the wrappers can cause choking.
We’d also recommend you explain to everyone in your home (especially children) how dangerous treats are to pets. Are you not sure whether your children or your furry friends have plundered your chocolate stock? Then pay attention to the following symptoms:
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tremors
Important: If your dog or cat has any of these symptoms, you can be sure that it wasn’t your children eating the chocolate. In this case, you should call a vet as soon as possible.
Never leave your pets unsupervised during parties
Halloween parties (and parties in general) can be an overwhelming, confusing, even frightening experience for your pets. Both dogs and cats tend to be creatures of habit, so a change in routine can be stressful to them. (No matter how sociable they are otherwise.) So even if it’s your friends and family, we’d always recommend knowing where your pet is during your Halloween celebrations.
One of the first signs of a stressed out pet is one that’s disappeared. Both dogs and cats tend to hide for a number of reasons. And the primary ones are when they’re overwhelmed from being surrounded by so many different people, loud music, noise, and more.
So stay prepared for this – and ensure your pet has a safe hiding place where they can withdraw for a bit of cool-off time. Ideally, keep something around with your scent (like a scarf or a blanket you’ve slept in) so they feel more comfortable.
We’d also recommend you never force your pet to interact with others. (Both humans and other pets.) This too can overwhelm them – your cat might hiss, bite, or scratch at you in self defense. Rather, it’s wiser to give them some time to recharge their batteries and approach you when they’re ready. And in case you’re expecting some younger guests over this Halloween, remind them to be extra gentle with your pets.
Let your pets know it’s you behind the costume.
You’re wearing a costume and you dog or cat doesn’t seem to recognize you? Don’t be surprised! You might just freak them out when you suddenly change your form and figure.
A helpful idea would be to allow your dog or cat to watch you put on your costume. This way, it’s easier for them to get used to the transformation. During the evening, you should take of your mask (or parts of the costume) to show your pet that it’s still you underneath the clothes.
And most importantly, avoid scaring your dog or cat with your Halloween costume. The resulting stress and anxiety it might put them through is never worth it.
Watch the door when the trick or treaters come knocking
“Trick or treat!” comes the chant – and while you’re busy handing out candy to your neighbors’ kids, your dog or cat might sneak outdoors without you noticing. And in the hustle and bustle of Halloween night, you’re more likely to miss out on when they’ve crept outdoors. Which comes with its dangers, from predators, pests, and people alike.
Besides sneaking out, your cat might feel anxious and stressed from the constant doorbell ringing and presence of strangers can cause your cat to feel anxious and restless. Or your dog might run to greet every newcomer – which might also end up in an escape attempt. (Or two.) Other dogs, with stronger protective instincts, might feel threatened from the constant influx of strangers in capes, hats, and flashy outfits – and bark or howl instead.
So if you’re expecting more foot traffic near your home this Halloween, consider keeping your pet in a secure, quiet room indoors to prevent them from escaping. Check up on them periodically to make sure they’re doing okay. If your dog or cat is in the habit of exploring the great outdoors, they might get bored or anxious from being confined indoors. So make sure they have an enriching indoor environment to keep them happy and busy. (With scratch posts, cat-friendly indoor plants, and some toys.)
Fix up your outdoor Halloween decor
Besides the inside, your outdoor Halloween decorations might need a bit of a once-over too. We’d recommend avoiding fake tombstones or animatronics in your yard, as they might frighten your pets or encourage them to flee. (Or pick a fight with them instead.) Rather, test them out with them before you set them up. If they spook your dog or cat, you’re better off investing in something that’s less likely to send them bolting off into the dangers outdoors.
Both dogs and cats can also safely eat pumpkins2 – which puts your outdoor decor under threat if you’ve set up a bunch of them in your garden. Plain pumpkin is safe for both, but consider serving these sparingly. (Since their digestive system is better designed for handling meat instead.)
However, be extra careful if you’ve placed fake pumpkins in your yard. If you’ve set up some that are made with toxic materials, your pet might get sick from taking a bite out of them instead.
Get your pet some exercise before the Halloween party
The first step in preparing your dog or cat for a relaxed Halloween evening is to exercise with them earlier that day. Get them some healthy movement by walking, running, hiking, or playing together. Because if your pet is tired by the end of the day, they’re more likely to chill out when the evening comes. (Yes, even your cat who’s naturally more active around twilight.) So when the trick-or-treaters come knocking, they’re less likely to be on alert.
Don’t forget: Many people dress up in costumes already in the morning. So be aware of strangers in costumers also when you walk your dog before the festivities begin. Keep a firm grip on your pet’s leash in case you meet people in costumes.
Be extra careful when walking your dog on Halloween night.
The spooky night is over, what now? Here a few final Halloween safety tips for safely walking your dog or cat in the dark. Specifically, watch out for candy leftovers and wrappers on sidewalks and streets. Make sure your pet doesn’t pick up any pieces they can choke on. We’d also recommend picking a route that’s a bit more wooded and surrounded by nature, free of Halloween leftovers.
Can I leave my dog or cat home alone for Halloween?
In general, we don’t recommended leaving your dog or cat home alone on Halloween. This is because the combination of loud noises, the doorbell ringing, and strangers dressed up in scary costumes walking around your home may be terrifying for your furry friend. If possible, get a friend or family member to take care of your dog or cat at home while you go out and enjoy the Halloween fun. Experts, for example, don’t recommend leaving your cat home alone for longer than 24 hours.
Our ultimate Halloween safety tip: Track your pet’s location
Celebrations like Halloween can be a ton of fun for us – but less so for your dog or cat. (Especially with all the reasons they have to react with panic, hide, or run away.) Plus, in a world where dognapping is on the rise, it makes sense to stay on top of their location at all times. But unless you confine them to the same room all evening, this can be pretty stressful. (For pet and pet parent both.)
So imagine never having to worry about where your pet is again? Aka, both ensuring their safety – while also being able to enjoy your Halloween evening.
It’s why Tractive pet parents around the world are investing in our life-saving technology. With its LIVE tracking, you can track your dog or cat in real-time – every 2-3 seconds. Or set up a “safe zone” that immediately alerts you if your pet sneaks past it. (Like your backyard.) With one glance at your phone, you’ll never have to worry if your dog or cat gets lost. So you can enjoy your Halloween – stress-free.
Always know where your pets are
Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your pet too.
Here’s a story from one of our pet parents, whose off-leash Golden Lab ran off deep into the woods during their first hike in the Alps. Despite her panic, she was able to quickly track his location in real-time with her Tractive device.
“I remembered that Happy had the GPS tracker clipped on. So I immediately switched on the LIVE Tracking mode and started breathing more easily the closer I got to his position.
Then, I could follow his path, live, directly on my phone and the position was so accurate…finally, there Happy was, sipping water from the source on a mountain’s edge.“– Francesca, Italy
Read the full story of Happy, Francesca, and how Tractive is keeping pets safe around the world – no matter how far they roam.
Have a safe spooky season this year – with these Halloween safety tips for your pet
Halloween is a fun time of year, but it can be less fun and more spooky for our pets. But with these Halloween safety tips, you’ll be on your way towards a stress-free Halloween experience.
- Make sure to pick pet-friendly Halloween decorations.
- Check your pet’s level of comfort before deciding on a costume.
- Avoid feeding your dog or cat any Halloween candy – they might be fatal for them.
- If you have to keep your pet confined in a room, make sure it’s in an enriching environment which can help keep them calm. Plus, check up on them periodically.
- Familiarize your dog or cat slowly to your Halloween costume. (So you don’t freak them out too suddenly.)
- Watch the door when the trick or treaters come. Your pet might sneak or run past you before you can intervene.
- Get your pet some exercise on the day of Halloween – so they’re more relaxed in the evening.
- Watch out for Halloween leftovers when walking your dog or cat after the celebrations.
And most importantly, consider investing in a dedicated pet GPS tracker which helps you track your dog or cat in real-time. So you can enjoy your Halloween and keep your buddy safe all in one go.
Here’s a video on Halloween safety tips for pets presented by Dr. Christian Broadhurst, senior veteranarian at the Clay County Humane Society:
Find this post useful? Share it with your friends – and have a spooktacular Halloween!