Halloween safety tips for pet owners

FILE PHOTO: A pit bull from the Castaic Animal Shelter is dressed up for Halloween during a KLAWS event at the Castaic Animal Shelter on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. Christina Cox/The Signal

With all of the costumes, decorations and visitors Halloween can be a spooky time for everyone, especially household pets.

The hustle and bustle of the holiday, along with the candy and wrappers, can bring some added stress and danger to our furry friends.

“Our pet community can be frightened by the activities of this holiday, and that is perfectly understandable,” said Marcia Mayeda, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.  “Pets react to the decorations and some of the festivities can be hazardous, which may trigger the fight or flight instinct.

Here are some tips to make this Halloween a fun holiday for all pets, big and small.

Treats and Decorations

Candy corn, chocolate bars and lollipops may be a human’s favorite part of Halloween, but these sweet treats pose a dangerous threat to the pet community.

Candy, especially chocolate, can be poisonous and even deadly to some pets.

“Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for cats and dogs, and sugar-free candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause serious problems in pets,” the ASPCA said.

To protect pets, the ASPCA, Humane Society and Department of Animal Care and Control recommends that pet owners secure treats in high cabinets, properly dispose of all candy wrappers and watch for forgotten leftovers.

Pumpkins are considered nontoxic, but they may cause stomach discomfort for pets that eat them; however, pet owners should be wary of jack-o-lanterns, which pets can knock over and burn themselves or a home.

Pet owners should also pay attention to hazards like rubber eyeballs that can be a choking risk, scented candles which can be toxic to birds, fake blood which can be poisonous and strung lights which can entangle pets.


Willy Wiggins, a rescue dog from St. Bonnie’s Rescue in Sand Canyon. Courtesy of Tim Wiggins

Approximately 16 percent of families celebrating Halloween will put their pets in costumes, according to the National Retail Federation.

Although four-legged bees and superheroes are cute, these costumes can pose safety hazards for pets.

Pets should not wear costumes that restrict their movement, vision or hearing or their ability to breathe or bark, according to the Department of Animal Care and Control.

If pets appear uncomfortable in their costumes, owners should take off their costumes and opt for the pet’s “birthday suit.”


According to the experts, pets are happiest when they are in a safe and quiet spot indoors with some “white noise” distraction like a radio or television.

“While you’re enjoying the fun, make sure your pets have a safe haven in a room where they can feel safe, comfortable and relaxed—and that they are tucked away from any hazards,” said KC Theisen, director of pet care issues for The Humane Society of the United States.

This will calm pets that might be frightened by people in masks and costumes during Halloween, according to the Humane Society.

Outdoor Safety

With trick-or-treaters regularly coming to the front door, it can be easy for pets to slip out of the house and run away.

To protect pets during the hullabaloo, the Department of Animal Care and Control recommends that pet owners ensure their pets are wearing the proper collar and ID and are microchipped.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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