Costumes, trick-or-treaters, and jack-o-lanterns — all signs point to Halloween! But before the first trick-or-treaters come to your door and you dress your pet up, make sure that they are ready for the holiday.
Dressing up Your Pet for Halloween
Pet costumes make for some of the cutest photos, but you don’t want your dog or cat to be stressed while wearing their outfit. Take some time to get your pet used to their costume by gradually increasing the amount of time they spend in it (think of it like breaking in a new pair of shoes) before the big day. It’s also important to make sure that your pet’s costume isn’t putting them in danger.
- Ensure a Proper Fit
Make sure their costume isn’t too tight (making it harder or more uncomfortable for them to breathe), or too loose (increasing their trip and injury risks). You also want to avoid dangling pieces of fabric or other objects your pet might chew on and ingest, possibly leading to a digestive irritation or obstruction.
- Avoid Masks
Avoid putting on a mask or covering your pet’s face – loss of vision causes stress and inhibits their ability to get around safely. It can also obstruct normal breathing or potentially cause trauma to their eyes.
- Include Reflective Gear
This is especially important if you’ll be taking your pet along for the trick-or-treating festivities outdoors. With so many people out driving unfamiliar roads, it’s important that your pet is visible to prevent accidents.
Be Wary of Strangers
If you want to take your dog along for trick or treating, make sure they’re properly socialized and would actually enjoy being a part of the fun. Many dogs get very nervous when approached by unfamiliar people or excited children and adding Halloween masks and costumes to the mix can set your dog up for a biting incident. Some dogs could become fearful and anxious and try to run away.
Staying Safe and Secure
Halloween can be stressful for many pets because of the non-stop door knocking and doorbell ringing, trick-or-treat yelling kids, strange costumes, and the constant opening and closing of the door.
- Create a Safe Space
The noises associated with trick or treating (such as doorbells, knocking, and loud children) can be stressful for your pets. If your pet is anxious when someone knocks or rings the doorbell, set up a secure room away from all the noise where they can hang out. Put on calming music to block the sound of the doorbell and put out their food and water, favorite toys, or a yummy chew. And don’t forget a clean litter box for the cats!
Medication can help give your dog relief from their noise aversion symptoms. If every day noises scare your dog, take this noise aversion quiz to see if they suffer from the condition.
- Prevent Door Dashing
You don’t want your dog to get spooked and run out the front door while you’re handing out candy. Put up gates to prevent your pet from rushing up to trick-or-treaters or dashing out the door. Or put your pet on a leash and keep that leash in hand when you’re opening the door to hand out candy.
Keep Candy and Treats Out of Reach
Halloween treats are delicious for humans but can be dangerous for pets. It’s best to keep all treats out of reach of pets, especially chocolate and treats containing the sugar-free ingredient, xylitol. Keep the bowl of candy out of reach of your pet in between trick-or-treaters and hang your child’s bag of goodies up high when they get home.
Pet suffocation happens much too often, so make sure to keep any treat bags away from your pet and cut them along all the edges (so it lays flat) before throwing them away. Lots of animals want to investigate bags because they smell like food or candy, but that can be dangerous quickly!
Be Fire Safe
Did you know that about 1,000 fires are started each year unintentionally by pets? Their fluffy tails or excited jumping can knock candles over and harm them or your home. Stay safe and use glow sticks or LED candles in your pumpkins and as decorations this year.
With some simple planning and easy management techniques, you and your pet can stay safe and have fun this Halloween!
- Pet Fire Safety. Protect America. https://www.protectamerica.com/pet-fire-safety. Accessed August 19, 2019.