11 ways to make Halloween scary good for pets

Small brown dog wearing a hot dog costume
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Allhallows Eve with cats and dogs, have no fear. We’ve got you covered.
By Nicole Hamilton

On the prowl for fun and easy ways to make Halloween ghoulishly festive for you and your pet? If so, have no fear. Below is our list of 11 ways to celebrate Allhallows Eve with the pets you live with and pets at the shelter. And since Halloween can make some cats and dogs feel a bit nervous, we’ve shared ways to make the holiday less spooky and more “spooktacular” for them, too.

1. Take a cue from the animals.

While you might find Halloween scarily good, some cats and dogs find it just plain scary. That’s why it’s important to take a cue from your pets to make sure they’re comfortable wearing a costume or hearing the doorbell ring (and ring again) during trick-or-treat time if those activities are in your plans. Many pets are much happier not wearing a costume and not welcoming trick-or-treaters at the door, so do the best you can for your pet’s comfort level.

2. Make dog treats.

You don’t have to be a star baker to make treats for your pup. For most recipes, you’ll only need an oven plus a few ingredients from your local grocery store. Here are a few recipes for homemade dog biscuits that are quick to make, healthy and easy to freeze.

3. Costume or no costume?

Halloween could be the quintessential holiday for dressing up your pet. After all, since people don fun get-ups each October 31st, why shouldn’t the animals, too? Before you turn your dog into the cutest pirate on the block, make sure he or she is comfortable in the costume. If not, that’s OK.

Lori Fusaro, Best Friends photographer in Los Angeles, recommends keeping pet costumes simple. Consider using wigs, bow ties, hats, sunglasses or T-shirts, and go slow when placing these items on your pet.

A word about felines: Cats may get stressed out wearing a costume. If you want to try it, go slowly and use plenty of rewards to make it a positive experience or skip the costume entirely and keep reading for other fun ways to celebrate with them.

4. Make catnip toys.

A creative way to get cats into the spooky spirit is with homemade catnip ghosts. Simply fill the toe of a white sock with a teaspoon of catnip. Then, tie the catnip-filled area with string or a rubber band to make the ghost’s head. Use a black permanent marker to create eyes and a mouth. Make sure you supervise cats as they play to prevent them from swallowing string or rubber bands.

You could even buy a bag of white socks and make a batch of catnip ghosts for cats at your local shelter.

5. Create a haunted cat house.

Do you have a big cardboard box somewhere in your house? If so, you’re in luck. If not, grab one from your local office supply or home improvement store, and use acrylic paint or markers to transform it into a fantastically fun feline haunted house. Just make sure the box is big enough for your cat to rest inside and cut a large enough opening for entering and leaving.

6. Throw a Halloween-themed pup party.

Reach out to neighbors and friends and host a Halloween-themed pup party. Make homemade dog treats if you have time, or keep things simple by grabbing some nutritious treats from a pet store. Make sure to have a camera or your phone on hand to snap photos, especially if dogs (and humans) come in costume.

7. Give out dog or cat treats.

When you head to the store this year to buy Halloween candy for all the human trick-or-treaters, buy some treats for cats and dogs in the neighborhood, too. Have them on hand to toss into bags (if you know the trick-or-treater has a pet at home) along with sweet treats for people. Just make sure to check that your pet treats aren’t off-limits for cats or dogs on special diets.

Here's another option: Hand out toys instead. For cats, consider small catnip-filled sacks (or a catnip ghost). And for dogs, toss in a chew toy or tennis ball.

8. Host a treat-and-toy drive.

Spread the word around the neighborhood and among friends and family that you’re gathering food and toys for the local shelter. Before you do, contact the shelter staff and ask what they need the most. (This information might be available on the shelter’s website.)

Don’t have time to organize a drive? Instead, visit your local pet store for nutritious snacks and toys, and take them to the shelter on Halloween.

9. Surprise your local shelter staff.

Surprise staff and volunteers at your local shelter with treats. Grab bagels or pastries from your local bakery, order up pizza and have it delivered at lunchtime, or drop by with some homemade chocolate chip cookies.

10. Foster a pet.

Shelters all across the country need help now more than ever. So, why not make this season the first day you foster a cat or dog? You’ll not only make this Halloween a memorable one, but you’ll also help save lives.

11. Prefer to keep things quiet?

If the weather is nice, head to a lighted park that’s open in the evenings and take a peaceful stroll with your dog; or visit a pet supply store with your pup and do a little treat shopping to avoid the hustle and bustle on your block during trick-or-treat time.

If you stay in (especially if you live with a cat or dog who gets spooked when the doorbell rings), consider turning off your porch lights, closing any gates or other entryways to your house and make it a peaceful, quiet Halloween. Your neighbors, especially those who live with pets, will most certainly understand.