The Halloween decorating and parties are in full swing between now and November 1st.  Time to take a few minutes to review your safety plan for your dog or kitty.  Many neighborhoods in Washington, DC are in the top ten for trick or treating as well as the Beverage Council has been successful in marketing alcoholic beverages as a Halloween treat.  This means there may be strangers in your neighborhood and their judgment may not be the best.  It also means your pet’s routine is in for some big changes.


  • Make sure Fluffy and/or Spike are wearing their collar and have current contact information. Because of the activity at the door and the crazy noises, they might escape. You want to increase their chances to be returned.


  • Keep your dog at home and don’t indulge in taking Bruiser trick-or-treating.
  • Create an inner sanctum for your pet for the evening.  White noise or the radio.  Snacks.  A comfy bed or snuggle blanket.  Perhaps a frozen Kong treat.
  • Halloween night can be fun and festive for the humans of the household, but all of the visiting trick-or-treaters can be horrifying for your pet.  Consider sitting on the porch during the height of the festivities to reduce the amount of door bell ringing and chance that your pet could escape when the door opens.  Our house has over 450 beggers looking for treats, so we are on the porch and even have a pizza delivered as we admire all the creative costumes.
  • If you are gone, the doorbell still may ring, so play the radio or a white noise machine and perhaps secure your pet further back in the house.  Don’t forget that special food treat.
  • Don’t forget the litter box when you place your kitty in a quieter back room along with a favorite blanket or bed and snacks.
  • Don’t leave your pet outside on Halloween.  Pranksters may steal, tease, or injure your pet.  Also, neighborhoods don’t look the same with the decorations, costumes and spooky goings-on.
  • Keep your kitty in the house for a few days before and after Halloween.  Black cats are most at-risk of being stolen or tormented during this time.


  • By now, you are probably aware that chocolate isn’t good for pets – especially the dark and/or cooking chocolate.  Also, be aware that artificial sweeteners are not good for dogs – can cause drops in blood sugar and loss of coordination and seizures.
  • Don’t leave half eaten candy lying about and don’t forget to toss the wrappers.  Check the house periodically during the festivities if you have guests and family indulging.
  • Be aware of dropped candy or wrappers as dog walker or you are exercising your dog for the next few days after the festivities. They may easily dart ahead to snatch and snarf the abandoned mini-bars and other treats.
  • If you do take Fido trick or treating, it might be a wise decision not to accept any jerky treats.
  • If alcohol is the treat of choice at your party, make sure to encourage guests not to share their libation with Scruffy or Whiskers. 


  • As you are decorating your house for the big haunting, keep wires and electric cords out reach of your pet and check the cords periodically for fraying.
  • If you are carving pumpkins and lighting them with a candle, arrange them so the pets can’t to close and either get burned or knocking the pumpkin over and starting a fire.
  • Pumpkins and the fall corn displays can cause tummy problems if they are ingested in large quantities.  If large chunks are eaten, internal blockages can occur. 


  • If your friends or you dress-up, your pet may not recognize you.  If your dog is scared, biting becomes a real possibility as well as running away.
  • Dress your pet in a costume – only if they love it. A bandana might be a suitable compromise
  • If you are dressing your pet up for the evening, look at the costume.  Does it fit?  Are they allergic to the fabric of the costume?  Is the costume flammable?  Can anything be easily chewed off and swallowed or cause choking?  Their costume should restrict their movement or hinder their breathing or ability to bark or meow.

Finally, make sure you have a poison control number posted in a prominent spot – just in case.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is 888-426-4435.

Happy Halloween!