Black cat in a Halloween costume

Halloween is a great holiday, but it can also become a cause for anxiety or health problems when it comes to pets. So skip the stress and keep your pets safe with these tips.


Avoid human treats – they could poison your furry friend!

Certain Halloween treats can become a choking hazard for your pet. Sweets on sticks, for instance, may cause ingestion that requires surgical removal. Also, remember that the following foods are toxic:

Xylitol – a sweetener found in candy and baked goods – may cause significant harm. While recent studies suggest that xylitol may not have the same devastating effects on cats that it has on dogs, it’s best to play it safe and keep it away.

Caffeine – found in candy, coffee beverages, energy drinks, tea bags and chocolate (to name just a few) – can cause serious problems in cats and dogs. Depending on the amount ingested, caffeine poisoning signs may include restlessness, vomiting, raised body temperature, and elevated heart rate. In severe cases, possible are also seizures, collapse and even death.

Chocolate is also harmful and this includes dark, white and baking chocolate. Its toxicity can lead to irregular heart rhythm, seizures and death.

Alcohol is toxic, too, yet cats and dogs can sometimes find it spilled on the floor or in sweets. It’s important to understand, though, that a small amount can actually kill a pet. For example, it takes only two teaspoons of whiskey to cause a coma to a 5-pound cat. So, if serving alcohol, please leave pets out of the Halloween party.

Raisins and grapes can make cats and dogs ill as well. Eating even a small portion of grapes, raisins or currants can cause vomiting and acute kidney failure. Thus, please avoid all types of grape- and raisin-containing products, including muffins, trail mix, candy and grape juice.



Keep pets inside to reduce stress and avoid accidents

Strangers dressed in spooky costumes can be a scary sight for an animal. The Halloween masks, accessories and sounds could provoke an unusual response that includes running away or becoming aggressive. This is why it’s best to confine your pet into an isolated room and avoid making the animal nervous.

Also, keep in mind that, unfortunately, Halloween is known for animal-related pranks. Black cats specifically are so threatened that some shelters don’t adopt them out this month. To be safe, lock your pet inside.

Black kitty with a yellow hat

If you plan to enjoy the festivities outside with your furry friends, take them on a leash. Please consider updating your pet's ID tag and microchip information because holidays are the days when a spike in runaway pets is noted.


Try out Halloween costumes in advance

If your pet likes wearing costumes, consider being a famous duo like Tom and Jerry, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, Pumbaa, Timon, Batman, and Robin. Some pets love wearing outfits and some do not, so don’t force them. Consider a minimalist costume like a festive bandana, so your pet feels better. If you pick a more elaborate costume, get it early and try it on a few times, for a short period each time. You can make wearing a costume a positive experience by offering treats and praise.

Also, take time to inspect the costume before purchasing it to ensure that it does not include any tiny parts that your pet can easily pull out and swallow.  

It goes without saying that pet costumes should not restrict eyesight, movement, hearing or the ability to breathe. The animal should not be left alone while wearing the costume and should always be supervised by a responsible adult. 

Have fun and send us lots of pictures! 

Nicole McCray

About the author

Viva Bolova holds a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas. She spent 14 years doing work for major brands and writing for various publications. Now she writes on travel and pet-related topics and has experience as a PR expert for an international airport. 

Note: Image credit - Kerri Lee Smith on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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