Pet Talk: Halloween Pet Safety

Though children and adults get a thrill from the spooky traditions of Halloween, our pets are less likely to appreciate the costumes, masks, and parties associated with Halloween night. To ensure your pet’s safety this Halloween, Kit Darling, infection control coordinator at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, recommended a few tips.

“Keep candy secure from pets,” Darling said. “Many candies are toxic to pets, such as chocolates. Candies and gum containing the sugar-free sweetener xylitol are also toxic.” Additionally, Darling said lollipops and other candies with plastic components and wrappers can cause intestinal blockage if ingested. Be sure to clean up any candy trash, and store candy on a high shelf to prevent pets from reaching it.

Other items to keep away from your pets include candles, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, corn, lights, and electrical cords. These objects are a hazard if consumed or chewed on by your pet. If you suspect your pet has ingested harmful candy or another dangerous item, Darling recommended contacting the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or your veterinarian.

Pet owners may want their pet to participate in the well-known Halloween tradition of wearing costumes, but they may not enjoy the experience as much as you. To determine if it is appropriate to dress your pet for Halloween night, Darling recommended these helpful tips. “Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know they are fine with it,” she said. “Try on the costume before Halloween and make sure it does not restrict their movement, hearing, sight, or breathing.” Additionally, costumes with lights or batteries are a safety hazard and should be avoided.

Another safety tip Darling recommended was keeping pets in a secure location to ensure they are protected from pranksters who may steal, tease, and injure pets. Black cats should be kept inside several days prior and after Halloween because they are especially at risk for being a target of a Halloween prank. Trick-or-treaters or party guests may also stress out and startle your pets, so this is another good reason to reserve a safe and secure place for your pets to stay on Halloween night.

“Continuous doorbell ringing and people at the door in costume may cause stress for your pet,” Darling said. “Put your pet in a secure location, such as a crate or room away from the front door. This will help minimize stress and will keep your pets from running out the front door.”

Although pets should have an identification on them at all times, it is especially important on Halloween night. Human and vehicular traffic may frighten animals and cause them to run off from the safety of your home. If you are going to take your pet trick-or-treating with you, walk them on a leash and provide them with a reflective collar or tape so they are more visible at night. Darling also recommended a form of identification that could not come off, such as a microchip.

Halloween is a fun night for people of all ages, but it is important to keep in mind your pet’s safety when planning parties and participating in other Halloween traditions. Nobody wants to spend Halloween night searching for a lost pet, so be sure to put your pet’s safety first.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.