Halloween can be an enjoyable time of year – there are interesting costumes, spooky decorations, parties at school and work, and free candy for children! Do keep in mind that all of these things are not part of your pet’s usual routine and can be upsetting for them and sometimes harmful.
Here we will outline some of the key elements of the Halloween holiday and how it can affect your pet.
Don’t dress pets up in costumes if they are not comfortable
I have been as guilty of this as the next person; it is hard to resist posing your pet in an adorable or funny costume to get the perfect picture for friends and social media! But keep in mind that wearing awkward, itchy, or downright uncomfortable outfits can be upsetting for our cats and dogs. If you know your pets’ body language and behaviour well, and want to dress them up for a few minutes to snap that cute photo then go ahead – but expecting a pet to wear a costume for an entire evening or while trick or treating with the kids may be too much to ask.
Spooky decorations can be scary!
If you decorate your house (inside or out) for Halloween, be mindful of what that might look like and feel like for your pet. Their home is their safe place and displaying oddly shaped objects and hearing scary noises unexpectedly can be very stressful for them. The same can be said for taking them out for trick or treating – the neighbour’s houses may be decorated in a scary way that makes your pet uncomfortable, so unless your dog is very confident and comfortable its best to leave them at home instead of going out with the kids. If you want to decorate the inside or outside of your house slowly show your dog or cat the decorations as you put them up; let them investigate and smell them, and gauge their reactions when they are finally put up. If your choice of decoration unsettles your pet, then find something a bit less scary to put up.
Not all trick or treaters are welcome!
For any adult staying home on Halloween night, giving out candy to the adorable kids knocking at your door is fun and entertaining. Your dog might not feel the same way. Understand that having the doorbell ring regularly or hearing repeated knocking might be stressful for them. For Halloween night it might be best to have them tucked away in the living room or bedroom with a favourite toy. If your dog is upset by constant doorbell ringing or knocking put on a radio or tv for them to drown out the noise, and if possible sit ready at the front door, so there is no need for kids to knock.
Keep your indoor cat inside on Halloween night
Its very sad to think that not all people love pets, but on Halloween night, in particular, you don’t know what kind of people might be out there looking to harm a pet (mainly black cats). There are lots of additional people out on the street and not always the nicest ones. To be on the safe side keep your cats inside on this night to prevent any access to anyone who would harm them intentionally.
Keep all pets away from chocolate treats and lit jack-o-lanterns
Whether it’s the candy that you’ve bought for kids visiting your house or the snacks, your kids bring home, always keep them up high off the floor and away from curious pets. Chocolate is very dangerous to dogs and cats, hard candies can pose a choking hazard, and even candy wrappers can block up in the intestines. Many sugar-free gum and candies contain xylitol which is also dangerous for pets to ingest. Also (particularly for cats) be aware of any access they can have to your lit jack-o-lantern. A flickering candle inside is very enticing for them to play with!
Written By: Stephanie Fergunson, RVT