Adjusting Your Pet for Halloween

on October 20, 2015
Posted in Cats

Halloween can be a fun time for people, and we often like to include our pets in the festivities. Unfortunately, this can be a scary time for dogs and cats, so it’s important to know how you can prepare them and protect them during this festive season.

How Can Halloween Be Dangerous for My Pet?

The most common dangers to pets during Halloween are:


Around Halloween, our homes contain an abundance of candy and other sweet treats.  Chocolate and xylitol (a sweetener) are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of sugary and high-fat goodies can cause gastrointestinal distress or even a painful, dangerous condition called pancreatitis.


Pets may be injured if they are dressed in costumes with attached strings. These can become caught on other items, resulting in strangulation or can  entrap or injure paws or legs. Ribbons, strings, buttons and other costume decorations can cause  life-threatening intestinal obstructions. Cats are particularly kmown for this behaviour.  Halloween decorations are another potential source of injury for pets. Curious pets may chew on unsecured decorations electrical cords. Decorations can be pulled down if pets try to climb them.

Becoming lost

The noise and commotion of Halloween, especially trick-or-treat night, can be extremely upsetting to pets. People wearing costumes can also cause pets lots of anxiety. Dogs and cats don’t necessarily understand that these hats and masks are only items of clothing, and they may seem frightening. These frightened pets may try to bolt and escape the hub-bub, becoming lost in the process.

How Can I Help My Pet Adjust to Halloween?

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, you can help your pet become desensitized to some of the festivities by exposing him to small doses of them. For instance:

Let them get used to your costume

Accustom your pet to costumed people by wearing a small part of your costume for short periods of time . Resist the urge to frighten him on purpose because you think it’s funny. If he acts anxious when you put a set of ears on your head, take them off and try again after a few hours. Gradually get him used to seeing you wearing funny items of clothing that he normally doesn’t see.

Get them used to more noise

Begin to accustom your pet to the increased noise levels that will occur by having someone ring the doorbell and tramp up and down outside the door periodically.

Put their costume on early

If your pet will be wearing a costume, start out slowly a few weeks ahead of time by putting it on them for a short period of time.  If your pet shows signs of anxiety, stop. Don’t use any costume that has strings, ribbons, buttons, or other decorations that could be chewed off. Never leave your pet unsupervised while wearing a costume.

Final Tips for a Pet-Safe Halloween

Put your Halloween decorations up with thought to how they might injure your pet, and take steps to eliminate the risk. Secure electrical cords out of his reach. If a decoration is heavy and might topple over on your pet, secure it to the wall or put it somewhere that your pet can’t get to it.

Consider confining your pet to a closed room on trick-or-treat night particularly if  you are having a Halloween party at your home.  Make sure that your pet has everything he’ll need in the room, including food, water, litter boxes, and toys. Begin putting your pet into the room for short periods of time a few weeks in advance of the main event. Go into the room while he’s in there and play with him, pet him, and feed him so he develops a secure, safe feeling while he’s confined. You may even want to play some soft classical music in the room to drown out some of the extra noise that will occur during the party or on Halloween night. Using a room to confine your pet will ensure that he can’t bolt through an open door and become lost.

Make sure that all adults, children, and visitors are aware that your pet shouldn’t have access to any Halloween candy.

Read also: Why in the World do Dogs Dig?

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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