Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Cat sitting in front of moon HalloweenEven as adults, many of us still love Halloween, with its scary and fun decorations, haunted attractions, costumes, and sugary treats.  Whether it’s Halloween parties or trick-or-treating, Halloween has something fun for everyone … except perhaps your pets.  Many of the aspects that make Halloween fun for us, can make it scary or even dangerous for our pets.  Check out these tips on Halloween pet safety so you don’t end up in a really scary situation this holiday. 

Keep Candies and Other Treats Out of Reach

The Pet Poison Helpline reports that Halloween is their busiest time of year.  If you are going to have lots of treats out for a Halloween party or for trick-or-treating, then secure your pet in a room where they are safe from these temptations.  Otherwise, make sure that trick-or-treat candy is stored safely where pets cannot help themselves.  The following content is not veterinary advice.  If you think that your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, don’t wait for them to exhibit symptoms, call a pet poison control hotline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.

Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661

ASPCA Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435

Chocolate Poisoning

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which can cause significant illness if consumed by dogs or cats.  In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity.  And smaller pets may be poisoned by smaller doses of chocolate.  Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, increased activity, thirst, rapid breathing, and an elevated heart rate.  In severe cases, seizures or death may occur. Learn more here.

Dog eating Halloween treatsXylitol Poisoning

Many people are less aware of the dangers of sugar-free candies or gum if consumed by pets. These may contain xylitol, which is highly toxic. Consuming xylitol can result in a decrease in blood sugar.  Symptoms may include vomiting, decreased activity, weakness, lack of coordination or seizures.  Even if your pet doesn’t exhibit symptoms, xylitol poisoning may cause liver damage.  You might be surprised what else contains xylitol.  Learn more here.

Raisin and Grape Poisoning

One of my favorite candies, chocolate covered raisins, is highly toxic to pets.  Consuming even small amounts of grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in some dogs and possibly cats.  Symptoms may include vomiting, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, and severe kidney failure.  Due to the danger of kidney failure, any ingestion of grapes or raisins should be considered a poisoning case even without symptoms.  Learn more here.

Other Food Dangers

Even less toxic treats can lead to illness if consumed to excess.  Large quantities of sugary, high-fat foods may lead to pancreatitis.  Candies in general can also cause choking or bowel obstructions, especially if your pet also consumes the wrappers. 

Keep Your Pet Safely Indoors

If you plan on having a Halloween party or expect trick-or-treaters, consider confining your pets to a safe room in your house.  Even otherwise friendly dogs may be frightened by children or adults in costumes, which can lead to a fearful or aggressive response.  More adventurous dogs and cats may use the opportunity of an open door to slip outside.     

Even regularly outdoor-access cats should be kept inside on Halloween.  Although there isn’t any clear evidence of an increase in animal abuse around Halloween, why take the risk of leaving your pets outside unsupervised.  Even trick-or-treaters or relatively harmless pranks may frighten an animal left alone outdoors. 

Make Sure Your Pet is Wearing Identification

Whether your pet stays at home or goes out with you on Halloween, make sure that they are wearing easy to read identification in case they get lost.   Microchips are great, but do you really want the stress of waiting hours or days for someone to bring your pet to a shelter or vet to get scanned?  License and rabies tags can also be used to track you down, but require the finder to contact your vet, Town Clerk or Animal Control Officer.  This also takes time and some finders don’t even know what to do with these tags.

Create a temporary ID tag
Create a temporary ID tag with a piece of paper and clear packing tape.

Make sure that your dog or cat is wearing a collar with up-to-date ID tags.  You can buy inscribed ID tags at many pet stores or if you want a cheaper option, consider ordering tags from Amazon.com.  If Halloween is upon you and you still don’t have ID tags, then create a temporary ID tag.  You can write directly on some collars with a permanent marker or create a temporary “tag” by writing your phone number on a piece of paper or address label.  Then securely tape this to their collar.  Don’t forget that even indoor-only cats benefit from ID tags.  In the commotion of Halloween activities, they can easily slip out a door unseen.

If you have an escape artist on your hands or if you just want to be extra safe, you may want to also look into pet tracking devices.  Check out this article for some of the best pet trackers for cats.  For dogs, check out the Whistle Go or Findster Duo available on Amazon. 

Pet Halloween Costume Safety

There’s no doubt that dogs and cats in costumes can be super cute.  However, make sure to follow these steps if you decide to dress up your pet.  First, determine if your pet will be comfortable in a costume.  Some dogs and most cats are uncomfortable wearing any type of clothing, especially costumes. Be sure to try the costume on well before Halloween.  If you notice any signs of distress, remove the costume to prevent stress or injury to your pet.

When picking a costume make sure that it does not limit your pet’s movements or senses.  They should still be able to eat, drink, breath, hear, and see.  Also make sure that they can easily go to the bathroom or your costume won’t last long.  A good costume should fit nicely without dangling parts that can be chewed by your pet or get stuck on external objects.  If you can’t find a costume that your pet loves, consider just buying a Halloween themed collar or bandanna instead. 

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


This article was co-written by Danielle Robertson and guest post writer Lauretta of PawMaw who also blogs for All About Cats

Disclaimer: The content of this page is not veterinary advice. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call the Pet Poison Helpline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.

This article includes Amazon.com affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, Lost Pet Research and Recovery earns money from qualifying purchases.  For more info, see our Affiliate Earnings Disclosure

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