A black and white dog wears an orange witch hat in a wagon against an eerie background.

Halloween traditions are uniquely special to every family, and including the household pet can be an exciting way to amp up the celebration. Some pets thoroughly enjoy celebrating the holidays, while others may be uncomfortable with overwhelming sights and sounds. 

To give your pet a spooktacular Halloween, you’ll need to cater some of the activities around their personality. The holidays are a great time for humans and pets to bond, but there are also a number of dangers out there. You can create a safe and memorable Halloween for your pet by making small adjustments to your plans, or even by adding more activities to the roster — ones specially designed to cater to your pet’s inner party animal. 

The most important aspect of keeping your pets safe on Halloween is awareness. Being prepared with information before an accident happens will make all the difference when it matters. Courtesy of Greenlin Pet Resorts, here is a deep-dive look into common materials, treats, and other Halloween mischiefs that can pose a danger to your beloved four-legged friend.  

Common Things to Look Out For When Keeping Your Pets Safe On Halloween 

Pets are creatures of habit, so days like Halloween can be a stressful time because of the increased stimuli and constant changes. Distracting decorations, loud visitors, and tempting treats can make many aspects of the holiday dangerous for pets. 

All domesticated animals have their different responses: cats are more likely to hide their symptoms when something is wrong, whereas dogs may have an easier time communicating their unwell condition. Regardless of how they act when they aren’t feeling 100%, there are some common ways that pets communicate discomfort. 

You should be extra attentive to fur friends on holidays like Halloween, assessing their state for behaviors like: 

  • Fear and anxiety responses: Many factors in a holiday celebration can cause a pet to panic. When your fur baby is unsure about their surroundings they may hide, shake, vocalize, and in extreme cases, attack. You know your animal better than anyone so look for atypical behaviors, responses, and functions. 
  • Irritation with costume: Another way to know if your pet is not having a good Halloween experience is how they react to their costume. If a pet is walking differently, limiting their range of motion, or refusing to move, chances are they feel insecure about their abilities in the costume and would rather be their full-fledged self again. Sometimes, being an adorable fluff ball for Halloween is enough! 
  • Symptoms of poisoning: The Pet Poison Helpline reports that they see an average increase of 12% in critical care and toxicology calls during the week of Halloween. With countless treats around, an unattended pet may have enough time to sneak something they shouldn’t have. Pets don’t know that certain human treats can be lethal, especially when they taste so good! Unfortunately, many of the most common Halloween treats are lethal to dogs, cats, and other household pets. A pet experiencing poisoning symptoms may be lethargic and sluggish. Look out for vomiting, diarrhea, and wincing when you suspect that your pet has eaten a toxic treat. 

What Are Some of the Common Dangers for Pets on Halloween?

You can enjoy the festivities of Halloween in many ways — just ensure that your pet doesn’t try to join you in some of them. Many of the most-common Halloween traditions can be dangerous for animals, but you can still partake in every beloved tradition with the right planning. 

The most impactful thing you can do to plan ahead is think about your pet’s most likely steps. What are they drawn to: decorations or treats? What scares them: loud noises or people? 

Adjusting your holiday plans based on their personality can save you time and energy during the actual day. Below is a list compiling many of these pet dangers and ways to combat the possible threats to your four-legged friend. 

The Candy Bowl

The candy bowl is a bright, complex-smelling forbidden treat wonderland for some pets. When food-driven pets smell a treat and know they aren’t supposed to eat it, it becomes a recipe for disaster. 

Many of the most common Halloween treats contain ingredients that are toxic to beloved household pets, but they don’t know that. A pet can sneak a treat from the bowl while oblivious to the consequences, but you can take action like leaving the candy bowl on the porch, stashing it in a cabinet or cupboard when not in use, or closely monitoring it at an unnoticeable height according to your pet’s perspective. 

Hazardous Decorations

Trinkets, streamers, and glitter oh my! Many popular Halloween decorations can be dangerous to pets that imagine these decor pieces as toys — or snacks. Some of the most commonly purchased items like plastic pumpkins and bones, hanging streamers, and anything glitter can pose a serious threat to playful pets.  

Ill-fitting Costumes

One of the best parts of Halloween is dressing up in creative costumes and pretending to be a character for the night. Your pet can join in on the fun, but some pet Halloween costumes can pose serious dangers

To suss out what might be risky, give them a dress rehearsal first. In some cases, the costume won’t fit and can even pose a choking hazard to the pet. 

Putting your pet through a rehearsal gives them the opportunity to communicate if anything is wrong and get used to the idea of wearing the costume. You can also gauge how well your pet fits in their costume by using the two-finger rule. Put your index and middle finger through your pet’s collar or costume neckline — if you can’t, it is likely too tight. 

Loud Noises and Masked Strangers

Trick-or-treaters are a core part of the Halloween celebration, but they can be scary for pets. Having groups of dressed-up and oftentimes masked strangers come to your home and ring a loud bell or bang on your door is a threatening experience in a pet’s eyes. 

If your pet is scared of people and the loud noises from the holiday, you can leave candy outside or have the best-dressed take shifts on the porch. If you still want to hand out candy from your door, put your nervous pet in a safe room with music or television playing to distract them from the noise. Extra treats never hurt either!   

What Treats are the Most Harmful to Pets?

When you are putting together your Halloween snacks, ensure that you keep these away from four-legged friends: 

  • Chocolate 
  • Grapes and raisins 
  • Sugarless treats (anything with xylitol
  • Hard candy 
  • Treat wrappers  

Activities to Keep Your Pet Entertained on Halloween 

There are many precautions you can take to protect your pet for Halloween, but what can you add to your list of festivities to include them in the fun? Pets love stimulation and spending time with their favorite humans, so craft enriching activities that encourage their participation along with yours. There are many spirited activities you can do with your family fur baby on Halloween, but below are a couple of ideas that many pets can enjoy!   

Treat-tastic Treasure Hunt

All pets from dogs and cats to birds and reptiles will enjoy a good treasure hunt. Animals tend to have better senses of smell than humans, so this gives them the opportunity to put those skills to the test and impress their favorite people. Take some of their favorite treats and spread them throughout a contained course then have them pick a starting point to sniff and search from. 

Bobbing for Apples

Some dog breeds are naturally skilled retrievers and can give a talented human a run for their money at this game. Not all dogs will take to this activity, but many intelligent pups will catch on quickly after seeing their favorite human try it a few times. If you try this with your dog, be sure to give them a bucket more shallow than yours, and be sure to avoid overcrowding the water. 

Caring for an Anxious Pet on Halloween

In some cases, your pet may not want to join in on the Halloween party plans, and that’s okay! Many pets, including more than 70% of dogs, display anxiety related behaviors. Pets that develop fear or anxiety around the holidays may just want their home to feel as quiet and safe as it usually does, so ensuring that the party doesn’t stray into their entire space may be all they need to feel less nervous.

Some of the most proactive tips for calming a stressed pet on Halloween include:

  • Encourage trick-or-treaters to help themselves to a piece at the porch instead of approaching the front door
  • Disconnect the doorbell
  • Create a safe space for your pet to spend the evening with soft lighting, calm background noise, and cozy bedding 
  • Distract them with treats and affection 

Happy Howl-o-ween from Greenlin Pet Resorts!

The holidays can be just as exciting for pets as it is for humans, but in order to have a safely spooky time, pets will need help from their loving caregivers to stay safe. This exciting holiday comes with many pet dangers, but making small adjustments to your plans can make an incredible difference in how you enjoy the holiday. You want to spend your Halloween making fun memories with your pet instead of worrying about their health, so remember to keep your little trickster out of the treat bowl! 

Greenlin cooks up plenty of spook-tacular special events for Howl-lo-ween, all with your pet’s safety and comfort in mind. Come to one of our special themed dog daycare events, or sign them up for dog training to help them be fully prepared for the festive season coming their way. We can’t wait to meet your pet — and see their adorable costumes! — at one of our six eerie-sistable locations in the Harrisburg area.