Holidays are lots of fun for people, and sometimes stressful. For animals, it is almost always a stressful time. While they see you enjoying the festivities, all of the activity can be over-stimulating for them.
Halloween can be a major cause of pet problems; the ASPCA reports that many animals go missing during the night. Here’s how to keep your pet safe on Halloween.
Keep Your Pet Indoors for the Night
This is the safest option, even for animals that usually live outdoors. Lots of nice people think it is funny to play pranks on Halloween, and often animals are not exempted from the revelry.
All you need is one group of drunken teenagers to decide that it would be really funny to paint your dog, toilet paper your bunny hutch or throw rocks at your duck pond, and you could have a major crisis on your hands.
Even indoors, there are still precautions you should take to make sure that Spot, Fluffy and Slimy make it through the night.
- If you are someone who indulges trick-or-treaters, keep your animal in another room, behind closed doors. Even the friendliest of pets can be overwhelmed by the volume of visitors on Halloween night.
- Keep all potentially hazardous items out of reach. This includes electrical wires from decorations, candy (especially chocolate, which is toxic), candles and other decorations.
- If you put your pet in a costume, make sure the outfit is nontoxic and doesn’t have any small parts that can be chewed off and become a choking hazard.
If You Have to Leave Your Pet Outside
If keeping your dog or cat inside isn’t feasible, make sure to keep the outdoor area where they live well lit.
If you don’t have good outdoor lighting, try some white Christmas lights. These are inexpensive and will deter would-be mischief makers. Check on your animal companions often; they will appreciate your reassurance amid all the strange noises and people.
Taking Your Pet Out on Halloween
I cannot do enough to discourage this practice. While a live animal can make what seems like the perfect addition to Halloween costume, please consider this from the animal’s point of view: It has been taken out of familiar surroundings, overwhelmed by strangers and is at risk of people feeding it candy or chocolate (did I mention this is toxic?). Not to mention the danger of your pet getting scared and running, flying or slithering away.
If you decide, against all better judgment, to take your pet out on Halloween, please do the following:
- Make sure your animal has an identification collar and a microchip so there is a better chance of it being returned when it is found miles away from your house.
- Put reflective tape on your pet’s collar and costume. Lots of people will be out and not focusing on small animals darting in front of their car.
- Don’t go far from home. Do not drive your animal all the way across town, where it has no hope of finding its way back should something happen. Stick to your block or street.
- Don’t go to a party where people are drinking alcohol. Drunk adults, even those who are usually nice, will do stupid things.
Some pets like holidays, costumes and large crowds. Some pets won’t chew on stuff or eat chocolate. Only you know your pet, but please consider erring on the side of caution when it comes to your animal’s health and safety.
If the worst does happen, and you suspect your pet has been poisoned, call your local vet or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
This pet health content was reviewed by a veterinarian.