If your Halloween plans find you staying home this year, why not let your pet in on the fun? While some pets want absolutely nothing to do with ghoulish costumes and incessant doorbell ringing, social pets may find this exciting evening fun and enjoyable—with a little preparation. Since this time of year poses some notable risks for our furry friends, Halloween pet safety is a big concern, so our WesVet team has compiled a list of ways to include your pet, while keeping them safe and healthy. Here’s how:

#1: Pick a proper pet costume

Many pets won’t tolerate wearing a costume, but with a little encouragement, your pet may be willing to sport a fun getup. The first step in choosing a pet costume is ensuring the right size. A tight-fitting costume may cause overheating or breathing difficulties, while a baggy one could pose strangulation or tripping hazards. Pay attention to tassels, hanging strings, or removable parts on costumes that your pet may try to eat, as they could lead to choking or an intestinal obstruction. No pet costume should cover the face or obstruct hearing, vision, or breathing. If your pet is reluctant to don their new ensemble, keep fitting sessions short, and reward them with treats during and after the try-on period. If all else fails, opt for a Halloween-themed bandana instead of a full costume. 

#2: Trick or treat your pet, the healthy way

Many Halloween candies are loaded with chocolate, xylitol, and raisins—three dangerous ingredients for your furry friend. A tiny taste can put your pet at risk for kidney failure, seizures, or other toxic outcomes. If you’ll be handing out treats this year, purchase pet-friendly items, in case your furry friend finds your secret stash. Choose small bags of pretzels or granola bars in place of traditional candies, and ensure you check the ingredients. Better yet, hand out pencils, small sticker pads, or other food-free goodies to further limit your pet’s risk. To give your pet a special treat, why not whip up a batch of healthy dog or cat delicacies? Choose a recipe with simple, nutritious ingredients that store well, like these salmon cat treats from the cookie rookie or these seasonal peanut butter and pumpkin treats for your pooch from allrecipes. You can also put some treats in small baggies for any four-legged trick-or-treaters who come your way on Halloween night.  

#3: Prevent a decor disaster

Candlelit pumpkins, dangling garlands, frightful noisemakers—many families enjoy Halloween decorating. But, curious pets may be in danger if they mistake a spooky adornment for a toy. Cats, who are notoriously fond of string-like objects and cords, may accidentally swallow some, which could require surgical removal. Any electrical decoration is also worth noting, especially if your pet could chew on or get caught in an attached cord. Never use real candles to light pumpkins or other decor items left in paws’ reach. While we encourage you to decorate your home this Halloween, look at your decor from a pet’s eye view before finalizing your decisions. 

#4: Address the dreadful doorbell

If you can’t wait to see kids bound up to your house in their creative costumes, but shudder at the thought of your dog barking every time the doorbell rings, consider some changes. Place a sign over your doorbell asking visitors to knock. If weather permits, consider leaving the front door open and placing a sturdy barrier to prevent pet escapes. Or, sit in a chair on your front porch or in your driveway to prevent kids from approaching your house at all. Some people may opt to temporarily disconnect their doorbells for the evening. If incessant barking is a concern year-round, your pet could likely benefit from some overall training

How much you’d like to involve your pet in this year’s Halloween plans is completely up to you—and you know your pet best. Never force them to wear a costume or participate in greeting trick-or-treaters if they are not comfortable. If, despite working with your pet to accustom them to Halloween, they are still frightened or stressed, find them a suitable, quiet space away from the action. 

Have questions about toxic candies, dangerous decorations, or training concerns for your pet? Contact WesVet’s veterinary team.