Rev. Nancy's Blog

Thirteen Tips for a Pet-Safe Halloween

Halloween is a holiday known for its tricks as well as its treats. So it’s good to make sure your ghoulish plans are pet safe, too. Here are tips for making sure that the only Halloween cats that give you a scare are the ones cut out of black paper!

1. Keep the candy for the kids. Although chocolate is a well known pet-safety hazard, artificial sweeteners and other candy ingredients are also dangerous for your pet. Secure Trick-or-Treat bowls of candy out of reach of pets, and don’t let pets play near kids picking through Halloween bounty — especially if it’s spread out on the floor. Macadamia nuts, the artificial sweetener Xylitol and even grapes, raisins and apple seeds can be toxic, even deadly. Too much sugar is as harmful to pets as it is for kids. If accidental poisoning occurs, contact your vet, the nearest emergency veterinary clinic or the SPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). If you want to give your cat or dog Halloween treats, ones from the pet store are just the trick.

2. Watch for escape artists. On Halloween night, you’ll probably be opening your door for trick-or-treaters every few minutes. Make sure to check that your dog or cat stays inside after each visit. Secure all pets carefully before festivities begin.

3. Make sure your pets are clearly tagged. It’s easy for an animal to escape on Halloween night, so make certain your pet is wearing a collar with current contact information on it. Engrave tags with a cell phone number. Brighter colors are easier to see! Don’t have a collar tag? Buy one, now! And if your dog tags along for Trick-or-Treat, make him easily visible with a dog-safe light, strobe or reflective tape attached to his collar. Better yet, get him a reflective vest.

4. Consider your pet’s temperament. If your animals are frightened of strangers, loud noises, or children, keep them in an area of the house that’s away from the front door. The sights, colors, and sounds of Halloween can be stressful for even the calmest pets.

5. Keep your pets close to home, particularly the black cats. Unfortunately, Halloween brings out the dark side of some people who may use the holiday as an excuse to torment or injure an animal they find lose on the street. Bring “outside” pets indoors. Carousing demons may enjoy painting your cat black or mummy-wrapping your dog, and your tormented or injured pet may bite back or dash into the street and under the wheels of a passing car.

6. Avoid costume drama. If you want to dress up your pet, make sure you choose a Halloween costume that’s safe for pets, with fabrics that are fire-retardant, non-toxic, and free of anything your pet can chew off and swallow. Even a pompom can prove deadly when lodged in the throat or intestines. Avoid parts that affect vision or movement. If your dachshund looks miserable dressed up as a hot dog, then let him out as soon as you’ve taken a few photos.

7. Think about the children. Even if your pets are good with children, not all children are good with pets. It may be a good idea to keep your pets away from a child who could startle them into an aggressive or defensive attack. Costumes can be scary for an otherwise even-tempered pet.

8. Be careful with the decorations. A Jack O’Lantern with a candle, glow stick or even battery-operated candle may be beautiful for you, but it’s also fascinating for your pet. Curious pets can be burned by flame or wax spills. Reduce the risk of singed whiskers or poisoned bellies by keeping dangerous decorations out of your pet’s reach. Some decorations are just scary, and fake spider webs are dangerous if swallowed.

9. Minimize stress while you're away. If you plan to go out for a party or other Halloween fun, leave the radio or television on. The noise can mask loud noises your pets hear from the outside festivities. Remember that a lighted porch light is a signal that you’re home and willing to receive visitors. If you’re away, turn the porch light off to minimize traffic to your door. Just carry a little flashlight with you so you can get the door unlocked when you get home.

10. Dogs at your door. Occasionally trick-or-treaters come to our door accompanied by their dog. I keep a few dog treats on hand to give to the dog’s person (not directly to the dog), and also to give our dog as a reward for good behavior toward the visitors.

11. Sugar and children. Remember that children can get over-stimulated and over-sugared, which adds to a household animal’s stress. Please keep a watchful eye on all family members.

12. Other kinds of treats. Some children come to your door asking for donations to UNICEF or other charities. If you can, keep a container with some coins in it within easy reach of the door. That will minimize any doorway confusion your pet will have to deal with. Some raisins or other non-candy treats can come in handy, too.

13. Remember to keep it fun. Whatever you do, don’t let worrying about pet safety ruin the evening. With a few simple precautions, there’s no reason why you and your pets can’t have a boo-tiful holiday full of frightful, and pet-safe, fun.

Halloween is a holiday known for its tricks as well as its treats. So it’s good to make sure your wicked and wild plans are pet safe, too. Here are tips for making sure that the only Halloween cats that give you a scare are the ones cut out of black paper!

Based on information from HomeAgain (, and, shared by Truth4dogs, adapted by Rev. Nancy Schluntz, Animal Chaplain.