Tips for celebrating Halloween with your pets

COVID-19 may be putting a damper on your Halloween plans, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate at home with your furry friends. Animal Humane Society (AHS) has some tips for celebrating the holiday with your pets in mind: 

• Carving pumpkins? Use one of AHS’s Halloween stencils for an animal-themed look! Pumpkin is a safe food for dogs, cats and critters, so feel free to get your pets in on the action by feeding them a little bit of your pumpkin guts and seeds as a treat. 

• If you’re planning on handing out candy this year, now’s the time to desensitize your pet to the sound of knocking and create positive associations. Have someone knock on the door and then give your pet a treat. With enough repetitions, your pet will start to associate treats every time someone is at the door. 

• If your pet is shy or fearful by nature, or if they have a habit of door dashing, plan to confine them in a safe, quiet room as far away from the door as possible. Play a radio, TV or white-noise machine to muffle noises. If your pet does end up getting out and going missing, check out lost-and-found pet resources and keep an eye on the Found Pets Bulletin Board. 

• Keep lit candles and candy out of reach. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats, while xylitol (a common sweetener) is toxic to dogs. 

• If you intend to take your dog out trick-or-treating with the kids, make sure to have them on a leash and under an adult’s control. Remember, if a dog gets loose, fights with another dog or snaps at a child, etc., you’re responsible for your dog’s behavior. Also, make sure your pet is wearing a collar and ID tags with your phone number and address. If your pet is microchipped, make sure your information is up to date. 


Pets and costumes

Is there anything cuter than a pet in a costume? If you’re planning on dressing up your pet, make sure the costume is made of non-toxic material, is free of small dangling accessories and allows normal movement. 

Start getting your pet used to the costume before the big day by letting them smell it and slowly rubbing it on their body to transfer their scent. Once you start putting the costume on for practice, offer lots of treats to create positive associations. If they freeze while wearing the costume, coax them with treats or a feather toy so they know they can move while wearing the outfit. 

Don’t force it. Some pets just hate wearing costumes. If your pet seems stressed out, find an alternative, like a Halloween-themed bandana, collar or bow tie. 

The costume you plan to wear may be scary to your pet, too, so practice wearing your costume around your pet before the big day. 

— Contributed by the Animal Humane Society 

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