Halloween can be a really hairy experience for your dogs and cats. Hordes of little goblins might not scare you, but your pets often find these strange sights a frightening experience.

So it’s best to keep your pets inside for Halloween.

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit and may become frightened or anxious by the unaccustomed sights and sounds of trick-or-treaters. The doorbell ringing often and children dressed up in costumes and giggling at your front door are unusual sights for your pet.

If you can put your pet in a quiet area of your house away from Halloween activities or parties you will help them have a happy Halloween. Then your pets will not become panicked or run out the front door when trick-or treaters arrive.

Dogs and cats do not understand that trick-or-treaters are dressed in crazy costumes with masks and may find them very intimidating.

All the new lights, decorations, loud noises and the constant parade of strangers at your door can be a very spooky event for your furry friends.

Tips for Treats

  • Tell your kids not to share their Halloween candy with your pets. These treats may give them a stomachache or worse. Chocolate and Xylitol (a common sugar substitute found in sugar-free gum and candies) can both cause very serious problems, and in certain quantities may even be life-threatening.
  • Taffy apples and lollipops may seem harmless but the swallowed stick can cause an intestinal obstruction, as can those small plastic candy goody bags. Candy wrappers can cause GI irritation or obstruction. Your pal pays little attention if the wrapper is on when devouring a yummy Halloween treat.
  • Keep lit candles and jack-o’-lanterns out of your pet’s reach. Pets can trip over a lit pumpkin and burn themselves or start a fire. Cats and puppies are drawn to the flame and may try to play with it.
  • If you plan to put a costume on your pet, be sure it is comfortable for them. Sometimes pet costumes are like women’s shoes; the cuter they are, the more they hurt. Many costumes have rubber bands that may burrow into your pet’s skin and get caught in their fur. Be sure their costume does not have any pieces they can chew off and that the costume does not interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, walking, breathing, urinating, defecating or opening their mouth. It is a good idea to get your pet used to the costume before Halloween. Never leave your pet unsupervised in a Halloween costume.
  • Party decorations can be a problem for pets. Cats are notorious for playing and eating ribbons, which can cause a serious intestinal blockage. Dogs may become sick from eating crepe paper streamers, fake spider webs, plastic spiders and cardboard decorations. Glow sticks and glow jewelry are not very toxic but they taste really bad and make pets salivate and act strangely.
  • Be sure your pal has an ID on its collar, is microchipped and possibly has a GPS tracker on its collar. As they could escape out the front door while you are distracted by trick-or-treaters.
  • All pets, even outdoor pets, should stay inside during Halloween. The noise of kids and those scary talking Halloween decorations may make your pet escape the yard and run down the street, and potentially get hit by a car.
  • The Humane Society has found, sadly, that during Halloween pets are often the victims of pranksters’ cruel tricks. They have had experiences in which certain pets, especially black cats, are at risk of becoming unwilling participants in the darker side of Halloween. Some Humane Society organizations will not adopt out black cats for a few weeks before Halloween. Even if your cat is an outdoor feline please bring it in for Halloween.

Keeping your pal inside for Halloween will make the holiday more fun for them and you.

Happy Halloween!

Dr. Bonnie Franklin is a relief veterinarian who grew up in Santa Barbara. She earned her doctorate of veterinary medicine from a joint program of Washington State and Oregon State universities, a master’s degree in wildlife biology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and does consulting work with the U.S. Forest Service. The opinions expressed are her own.