8 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe and Happy on Halloween

Before you take your dog to a Halloween party or out for some trick-or-treating, make sure your pooch is prepared. Stacie Joy [CC BY-ND 2.0]/Flickr

Halloween can be a lot of spooky fun for us, but with all the candy, costumes and constantly ringing doorbell, it can be a frightening and potentially dangerous time of year for pets. So before you wrestle your kitty into a costume or take your dog out for some trick-or-treating, read these eight tips to keep your furry friend safe and happy this Halloween.

1. Don't force your pet to wear a costume. Some pets love the attention they get from wearing clothes or costumes. Others express their contempt in clear and concise ways. If your pet hates donning costumes, skip them entirely.

If your pet will be wearing a costume this Halloween, give him time to get acclimated to it before the big day and make sure it fits properly and doesn't impair mobility or vision. Also, check to make sure no part of the costume will be a burning or tripping hazard or has parts your pet is likely to chew. You may need to cut wider eye holes on Batman masks or trim the cape of that Superdog costume. And ensure that your pet’s collar and leash fit comfortably with the costume.

And of course, never leave a pet unattended in a costume.

2. Make sure pet tags are up to date. Even the most mild-mannered dog may get spooked by the arrival of ghosts and goblins, so no costume should be complete without a collar that includes updated ID tags.

Even if your pet won't be joining you for trick-or-treating, he should have tags on. With all the opening and closing of the door to hand out candy, there are numerous opportunities for a spooked pet to escape.

3. Practice basic obedience commands. Ghoulish surprises may be hiding behind every corner. Work on basic commands such as “sit,” “stay” and especially “leave it.” Make sure your pet understands that these rules apply indoors and outdoors.

4. Keep anxious pets away from action at the front door. Some pets patiently greet kids who arrive in search of treats. If your pet likes to dash, find a quiet spot far from the action and keep them occupied with interactive toys. Consider using a Thundershirt to keep your pet calm, or try one of these remedies for anxious dogs.

kids trick or treating with dog on Halloween
Be sure to keep your dog on a short leash on Halloween. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

5. Practice safety while trick-or-treating. If your pet will be joining your family on your door-to-door walk, make sure he's on a leash the entire time. (This goes for both dogs and cats.) For maximum safety, use a light-up collar, harness or leash.

Keep your pet close to your side in case you encounter trick-or-treaters who are more afraid of golden retrievers than ghosts and ghouls. Bring along water, as well as some treats so you can award your pet for good behavior. And don't forget those pickup bags!

6. Monitor that treat bag. Halloween kicks off a season of upset tummies for people and pets. Make sure your pet stays far away from goodie bags and watch for stray pieces of candy that may be on the ground. Keep the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center hotline (1-888-426-4435) handy just in case your dog or cat finds an unapproved treat.

7. Use extra caution around kids . The pitter-patter of pint-size feet can be scary for kids and pets. Review the rules for how kids should safely interact with pets, and make sure kids understand that wagging tails don’t always mean happy dogs. Use extra caution when walking onto a dog’s “turf” to pick up treats.

8. Don't let your pet party too hard. If you're hosting a Halloween party, take a few precautions. Keep your pet on a leash or in a crate while guests arrive to ensure he doesn't slip out the door. If your pet will be joining the festivities, establish a don't-feed-the-animals rule with your guests.