Halloween Pet Safety Tips: Costumes, Candy and Other Hazards

Halloween is a fun day for humans, but pets may become spooked (no pun intended!) by the altered appearance of their families. If your dog does not appear to recognize you and your children when you’re in costume, use caution when approaching him or her.

Dressing up pets in costumes

Some people like to dress up not only themselves, but their pets, too, for Halloween (or other holidays). Because wearing a costume might be uncomfortable or frightening to your pet, introduce the costume slowly. Start by taking the costume out of the packaging and allow it to air out. Costumes may have strong smells that pets can be sensitive to. 

Lay the costume on the floor and allow all house pets to sniff it. If your pet avoids the costume, shows no interest, or is fearful, put treats or a favorite toy near the costume to make it a positive experience for your pet. If your pet walks up to the costume, praise him/her and provide treats.

Wait until your pet is comfortable with the costume before attempting to dress your pet. If you have multiple pets, put the pets who aren’t going to dress up in a secured room. The reason for this is that your other pets may become stressed or fearful and have unexpected defensive behavior during the dressing-up process.

The process of dressing your pet should be done in steps and using repetition. If the costume has more than one piece, try one piece a day. For example, on the first day practice putting on the cape, and repeat. On the following day, practice putting on the hat and repeat. The next day, try putting on the cape and the hat. During this process, remember to provide praise, encouragement and treats. If your pet demonstrates fear, stress, and/or defensive behavior during the process, your pet may not be comfortable dressing up. Be respectful to your pet.

Dogs, cats and Halloween candy

You probably know that candy can make your pets sick, which means you should always keep it out of reach of your pets, but be especially cautious on this holiday, when there’s so much of it around. You can encourage pet involvement in Halloween by making homemade dog and cat treats for your own animals and for other people’s pets. (Just make sure they’re clearly labeled as pet treats.)

Keeping pets inside and safe on Halloween

Finally, dogs and cats should be kept inside on Halloween. If a lot of people will be coming to your door, put your pets in a quiet room with the door shut, perhaps with some soothing music playing, to prevent them from escaping into the night. Keeping them in a closed room will also minimize the fright they might get from loud voices and wild costumes.