Pet Safety Tips for Halloween

DrPaul -

Pet Safety Tips for Halloween

Halloween can be a time of family and community fun, which is certainly something to celebrate! However, it can also be a busy and eventful night which may be stressful for pets. But by being aware and putting a few sensible precautions in place, it’s possible to reduce risks and keep pets happy and healthy throughout Halloween.


Knock, know, who’s there?

A steady stream of ‘unexpected’ knocks on the door from trick-or-treaters throughout the evening may startle your pets. So, what can you do?

  • If frequent callers cause your pets fear or overexcitement, set up a safe space with a favourite blanket or toy, in advance. 
  • Where over-excitement is likely to be the biggest issue, it’s advisable to take your dog for a good walk earlier in the day, to help reduce energy in the evening.
  • On the other hand, if your pet is very nervous, it's a good idea to put a sign on the door asking trick-or-treaters to pass by without knocking. If you still want to contribute to the fun, you could always leave the sign with a sweetie stash outside but aim to pop out to refill the stash regularly, rather than put it all out at once!


Distraction danger

Although it’s fun opening the door to see the trick-or-treaters, the activity also involves lots of distractions, making it easy for a dog or housecat to escape as the door is open. Be aware of where your pet is before opening the door and ensure that your pet’s microchip and ID tag information is up to date. This way, if the worst should happen, you can be contacted easily once your pet is found.


Caution around candles

Jack-O-Lanterns are of course a feature of Halloween, but as they contain candles and are often at ground level, they’re dangerous with excitable pets jumping up each time the doorbell rings! Take care about how and where candles are lit and placed, to help ensure they cannot be knocked over or cause burns. 


If you want to go for glow, battery versions can be a better solution - but do keep the batteries well out of reach of pets too!


Decoration danger

Other decorations can also cause a few problems for pets. The best advice is to keep pets separate from your decorations or to ‘go large’ with decorations, as small items can be hard to keep track of and can be a serious choking hazard for pets.


After-dark decorations such as glow sticks might be fun but also look a lot like chew sticks to pets. Most brands tend to be nontoxic but chewing one of these does present the risk of illness, adverse reaction or choking. 


Keep sweeties secure

When it comes to treats at Halloween, it’s useful to remember that what’s a treat for humans can be very dangerous for pets. Chocolate and candy can be particularly dangerous if it falls in the wrong paws:

  • Chocolate is poisonous to pets so keep it well out of the way.
  • Artificial sweetener xylitol, found in many sweets, is also extremely toxic for dogs.
  • Lollipop sticks and foil wrappers can be choking hazards for pets, so do ensure that wrappings are cleared away and disposed of carefully.
  • Halloween sweets and cakes are highly decorative and often contain artificial colouring or synthetic food dyes, which can cause allergic reactions and illness in pets.


Avoid costume dramas

A bit of dressing up can of course be fun, but if your pet is joining in just take a moment to ensure that the costume is comfortable:

  • An ill-fitting costume might limit movement, restrict breathing, cause irritation, or impede vision (which can also cause accidents). 
  • Check also for any dangling elements on the costume which may be decorative but might also be a choking hazard if chewed. 
  • If you want your pet to play a part but don’t want a costume drama, a suitably decorative bandana can be a quick win without causing stress to your pet.


At the end of the day, it’s just one evening, but hopefully by being aware and taking care, your whole household may be able to enjoy Halloween.

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.