So, you’re all dialed in for the perfect Halloween: You’ve scored the motherlode of Jolly Ranchers and Kit-Kats, carved a jack-o-lantern that is nothing short of a masterpiece, and nabbed the slickest costume for your four legged friend.
At its core, Halloween is all about thrills and chills—but when it comes to pet safety, we prefer to keep things horror and stress free. Read on for tips to keep your pets feeling cozy and safe on their own night of hell—erratic sounds, recurring strangers in costumes, and a never-ending doorbell!
8 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets
#1. Tire Out Your Dog
If your buddy tends to get skittish around large groups of people or front door activity, you’ll want to be prepared.
It’s a good idea to make sure your dog has had their regular routine and needs met that day—the usual enrichment, exercise, and attention they get from you—to take the edge off in the evening.
#2. Keep Your Pets Inside
Your dog doesn’t understand why their environment is suddenly riddled with loud, odd-looking strangers and groups of people parading around their territory. It’s your job to help them cope and provide comfort throughout the evening.
We recommend keeping your pup indoors, especially if they’re prone to fear or nervousness around strange noises, people, large lawn decorations, or anything new or “off” in their environment. Even the most confident of dogs can find Halloween spine-chilling.
#3. Create a Safe and Cozy Den
Set up a special area for your dog to be in away from all the activity, either in a separate room or behind a barrier from the door. Ensure they have their favorite, familiar things with them: a cozy bed, some toys, and a long-lasting chew or frozen treat to occupy and relax them.
Consider putting on some soft classical music, dimming the lights, or otherwise cozying up the space to make them as comfortable as possible until the festivities are over.
#4. Treat Often, and Wisely
You’re eating your fair share of treats on Halloween—make sure to give your pet something extra special, too!
Have lots of high value dog treats like meat or cheese, or festive fare like seasonal pumpkin biscuits to build positive associations with weird looking strangers at the door.
Remember, candy of any kind (especially chocolate) is a huge no-no for dogs. And, be mindful of where you place your fall-inspired cocktails and pumpkin beer—alcoholic beverages can be lethal to dogs, too.
#5. Keep Candy Out of Paw’s Reach
Avoid placing candy on low lying spots like coffee tables, on chairs, and even bottom cabinets. When a Golden Retriever decides he wants to get into whatever is making the crinkly sounds, nothing can stop him, not even lack of opposable thumbs (or cellophane).
#6. Let Your Dog Decide if They Want to Dress Up
Some pets are uncomfortable being dressed in costumes, and it’s important to listen to them. If your dog runs or backs away, growls, or remains frozen after the costume is on—it’s safe to say that they’re communicating with you that they are distressed. Your pet’s comfort comes before cuteness—after all, they’re already adorable!
If your dog is comfortable and confident wearing a costume, measure your pet and make sure the costume you’ve chosen is the right fit. Then, do a dry run the night before to make sure nothing will be obstructing their ability to see, walk, or breathe.
Whether your buddy’s going out dressed as a taco or a pirate, safety and functionality always trumps fashion.
#7. Decorate Sensibly
It goes without saying that a candlelit jack-o-lantern and your dog’s wagging tail are two things that don’t belong in the same equation.
Things like electrical cables, candles, and small gourds should be discreetly placed and you’ll want to make sure those fake cobwebs are high enough that your dog can’t reach them.
If your pal is prone to chewing, you may want to strategically place your decorative scarecrow in the yard or porch as well, and provide them with something appropriate to chew on instead.
#8. Update Your Pet’s ID
Caped crusaders yelling loudly for candy can turn a perfectly confident dog into a terrified pup desperate to flee the noise. A cracked door or window can begin to look like the perfect escape hatch from the festive chaos.
It’s important to consider all the steps in this article so that your dog doesn’t escape and get lost, but if they do, it’s crucial for them to have visible identification or a microchip so they can make their way back home, either from the help of a neighbor or a veterinary professional, to be reunited with you.
While Halloween can be a great time for kids and adults, it’s important to understand that the noise and excitement the holiday brings can be a distressing time for our pets. With some common sense precautions, keeping a pet’s needs and safety top of mind, and providing pets with a safe and quiet space to ride out the festivities, Halloween can be a success for everyone, year after year.