Trick or Treat! Candy and costumes are exciting for people but here are some easy tips you can follow to make sure Halloween is fun and safe for your pets too:
1. Keep the candy in the bowl
Halloween candy does not make a good treat for your pets. Most pet owners know chocolate, especially baker’s chocolate, is toxic to dogs, but there is another toxic danger in many candies called xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener commonly found in gum and mints. It can cause seizures and liver failure in dogs, even in small amounts. If you want to give your pet a treat this year while you indulge in yours, stick to treats made specifically for pets. Or you can surprise them with a new pet toy or chewy stick.
2. Let your animals inside for the evening
With all the commotion going on in the neighborhood, most dogs will want to investigate and most cats will want to hide. For these reasons, you should keep your pets inside. There is an increase in foot traffic as well as car traffic on Halloween making your pets vulnerable to getting lost or hit by a car. Black cats are vulnerable to animal cruelty or “pranks” on Halloween nights and should definitely be kept inside for their own protection.
3. Dress in reflective gear
If you go out trick-or-treating and want to include your pet, make sure your dog has some kind of reflective gear on. Whether it’s a reflective clip on the leash or a vest, making your pet visible to motorists could save their life. These items are inexpensive and available where pet products are sold.
4. Keep pets away from the door when trick-or-treaters arrive
Most dogs want to be the first to the door when the doorbell rings. This makes it difficult to keep them from running out and stressful for trick-or-treaters who may not be as comfortable with barking dogs. If possible, eliminate this problem by keeping them comfortable in another room of the house with stimulating toys or behind a baby gate (if they are small) where they can see the action but can’t get out.
5. Place Halloween decorations out of reach
Fall is a fun time to adorn your home with pumpkins and cornucopias. Corn cobs are an extreme hazard as pets are drawn to them. Unfortunately, some dogs will ingest these items leading to, at the very least stomach problems, or more dangerously, bowel blockages requiring surgery to remove. It’s best to make sure pets don’t have access to your holiday displays.
6. Glow sticks are not chew toys
Glow sticks and glow jewelry are popular items for children to wear or receive while trick-or-treating. While they are filled with a non-toxic material, they are tempting for animals to chew. They can cause a mess if they burst and discomfort for your pet if they are ingested.
7. ID tags should be on
Now that so many pets are microchipped, pet owners often have a false sense of security that their pet will easily be returned if they get lost. Halloween can be a chaotic night and if your pet does get out and a good Samaritan finds them, they most likely will not have access to check your pet’s microchip. Make it easy on everyone and be sure your dog or cat has a tag with your phone number and address. This way, you can give your pet a better chance of making it home that night if they happen to get out.
8. Dressing your pet up? Yay or nay?
Some cats and dogs are “good sports” and will willingly or “put up” with wearing a costume with ease. Others are not. For example, Emily of OGPS’ dogs are photographed in the picture above. While Jonah was content to walk around as a hot dog all evening, Addy refused to wear the hat to her ketchup bottle costume. You know your own pets. Skip the cute costume if it causes them unnecessary anxiety and stress wearing it. Instead you can try a cute Halloween bandana or ribbon for your photo ops.