5 tips how to keep your dog safe this Halloween

Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in the United States. Although you might think Halloween is a strictly American holiday, the festival is celebrated by people around the world. It has its roots in Roman Feralia, which commemorates the passing of the dead, Celtic Shaiman, which celebrates the passing of harvest season, and Christianity. 

Traditionally Europeans celebrate Halloween differently than Americans, it’s a bit quieter 🙂 In Europe, it’s a time when we are remembering our loved ones who have died. 

But since we live in the age of globalization, you can now find similar festivities and celebrations in every European country. Let’s face it, we all have a small kid inside, and if there is an official excuse to dress in a costume we go for it 🙂

Dogs are not only our best friends. They are also our furry family members that we love and care for. We want to celebrate with them, want to include them in our family events and celebrations. 

Halloween is a time for people to dress up and have fun, but it can also be a dangerous time for pets. So here are 5 tips for keeping your dog safe on Halloween.

While I am a veterinarian, this article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have any medical concerns about your pet, consult your vet immediately. Always seek professional assistance if you are unsure of your pet’s health.

dog on a porch with Halloween decorations

1. Be careful with pet costumes

I know that pet costumes are a big thing, especially in the US. You guys love matching Christmas pajamas and all kinds of costumes and I love it 😊

But you need to be a bit careful with pet costumes. I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of pet costumes (mostly because the poor dog usually looks like he’s gonna start crying any minute and you can tell he’s really not happy), but I understand why people like them so much. However, I’ve seen a few pet costumes that were actually dangerous for dogs to wear.

If you want your pup to wear a costume, make sure it is safe for your dog. He needs to be able to breathe and move freely. It shouldn’t constrict his eyesight or hearing. 

Make sure it doesn’t have small pieces that could be chewed off and swallowed or choked on. It should fit your dog properly and not be too loose, saggy, or too constricting. 

Don’t force your dog to wear it. If it’s a fight to get him into his costume, please don’t do it. I think the whole purpose of Halloween is to have fun and not to force your dog into a costume just to show him off on Instagram. Forcing your dog (or any other pet) is just not ok, and please don’t do this to him 🙏

Also, don’t leave your pup alone in a costume, especially if he hates it. You would be surprised how fast he can chew or scratch it off. 

Halloween dog safety tips

2. Chocolate and other treats can be toxic to dogs

Trick or treat. When you think about Halloween, chocolate, candies, and other sweet goodies are among the first things that come to mind. 

Unfortunately, chocolate is toxic to dogs. It’s made from roasted cocoa beans which contain methylxanthines, especially theobromine, and a small amount of caffeine. They are both toxic to cats and dogs.

The lethal dose of both caffeine and theobromine is reportedly 100–200 mg/kg body weight, however, already 20mg/kg can cause clinical symptoms. And there’s also individual sensitivity to methylxanthines – some dogs can tolerate it a bit more, some a bit less. 

To put it another way – One ounce (ca 28g) of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is a potentially lethal dose in dogs.

The amount of methylxanthines in chocolate or cocoa products varies. The darker and less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it can be to dogs

Many sugar-free candies contain Xylitol. Xylitol is harmless for humans but toxic to pets. 

Be careful where you store your Halloween candy supplies. Tell your visitors not to feed your pet. And be mindful of where the kids leave their candy stashes. 

If your dog ate chocolate or sugar-free candies please call your vet immediately. 

If you want to make your dog happy, you can always bake him some pumpkin treats, there are plenty of good recipes on the internet ☺️ 🍪

Digital pet planner for Goodnotes

3. Strangers, visitors, and loud noises can make your dog nervous

If you throw a party or have visitors at your house, keep your dog away from them unless he’s really ok with it. Please learn to read his body language. I know some dogs love having a lot of people around them, and that’s fine. But sometimes even gentle people-loving dogs can get spooked by humans in weird clothing. People in costumes can be very stressful for pets, don’t underestimate it.

Be especially careful when you have kids in costumes running around your house or ringing the doorbell frequently for trick-or-treats. 

If you have one of those dogs that goes ballistic when someone touches the doorbell, you can put a sign on the door to ask the visitors to call your phone or knock gently on the door. 

It’s always safer to keep your pup in a separate room, at least until he gets a bit used to having so many people in his territory and loud noises. 

Fireworks and loud noises

Speaking of loud noises, I don’t live in a country where we use fireworks during Halloween, but it should be mentioned here. Dogs and their issues with fireworks will make for an extra article, but if you have a dog who is afraid of fireworks and loud noises, keep him secured in the house. You wouldn’t believe how many dogs get missing every time there are fireworks involved. They just panic and run.

If your dog gets a panic attack every time he hears fireworks, consider spending Halloween evening at home and talk to your vet about possible anxiety treatment that is best suited to his needs.

New puppy planner blue
Printable Pet Planner for busy dog owners

4. Decorations and candles are a potential hazard

Halloween decorations (or any other decorations) are beautiful, but can also be dangerous for your pet. 

Keep your dog away from any lit candles or jack-o’lanterns that you have in your home, you don’t want to burn down your house just because your pup thought a pumpkin would make a nice ball 🤷‍♀️ 

Pets can get easily entangled in all kinds of stuff, so be careful where you put decorations with strings. 

Wires and cords should be kept out of your pup’s reach (especially if you have a curious puppy), they can cause severe burns, shock, or death when chewed on. 

5. Safe trick-or-treating with your dog

It’s safer to keep your pet inside the house on Halloween night, instead of letting him roam around your garden.

If you take him outside, make sure he has a reflective bandana or light-up collar so that drivers can see him better when he’s out trick-or-treating with you.

Keep your dog on a leash so they don’t run into the street and get hit by a car. Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags in case he gets scared and runs away.

Watch out for people in costume who might try to pet your dog or give them treats. You should be able to tell if your dog is scared or uncomfortable. As I said before, people in costumes and loud noises can be stressful for your pet. When a stranger in a costume (even with good intentions) tries to pet a dog that is scared it can end badly. 

I think people all around the world agree that there is something magical about All Hallows Eve, no matter where you are from. 

With a bit of precaution, you can safely enjoy the magic together with your pup. Have fun! ❤️ ☺️

If you want to learn more about pet health, you can sign up for my newsletter. Now you can get a free pet care planner as a bonus 🙂


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