Halloween Pet Safety

Oct 17, 2014

Dog in Pumpkin SweaterHalloween is a fun time to celebrate with all members of the family, but it requires special precautions to make sure your furry family members stay safe. Here are some tips from Red Bank Veterinary Hospital to keep your pets out of trouble, and out of the hospital, on this spooky holiday.


While pets may like the taste of an occasional sweet treat, to prevent illness and exposure to toxic substances, it’s best if pets don’t have access to candy. If you want to give your pet a treat, make sure it’s one made specifically for dogs or cats.

Do NOT feed your pet the following:

• Chocolate (can cause vomiting/diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst/urination, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, seizures, and even death)
• Excessive amounts of sugary treats (can lead to hyperactivity, increased heart rate, upset stomach, vomiting/diarrhea)
• Any food, treats, gum, or candy containing the artificial sweetener, Xylitol (known to cause life-threatening low blood sugar, and liver toxicity)
• Candy/food containing grapes and/or raisins (may cause acute kidney failure)
• Candy Wrappers (may cause an upset stomach or intestinal blockages)

See a complete list of toxic foods and plants and their effects at the poison control section of the ASPCA’s website


Halloween pet safety should be the number one concern this holiday. It is cute to dress up our furry friends, however, consider the following before picking a costume.

• Is the costume too restrictive? Can it cause your pet to choke or become injured?
• Can your pet ingest the costume or decorations?
• Are you using products not approved for use on pets? If you plan to use paint or nail polish, choose varieties that are pet-friendly. Otherwise, your pet may absorb toxic substances through the skin or inhale them, causing breathing problems.


Halloween decorations can be fun or scary. Unfortunately, to some pets, they may also look like food. Here’s what to avoid:

• Some Halloween plants and pumpkins can be harmful. Keep them out of reach.
• Keep your pet away from candles. These could cause a burn risk or even a fire.
• Protect your pet from decoration wires or electrical cords. Pets may chew them and experience shock.


Extra household traffic offers challenges for pet owners. Be aware of the following:

• Frequently opened doors present an opportunity for pets to escape. Be sure that your pet is wearing identification (i.e. tag and/or a microchip) and is kept secured in a separate room
• If you take your dog trick or treating, keep him/her on a reflective leash at all times, wearing identification
• The constant sound of a doorbell ringing may be stressful. Friends and family should be careful around anxious pets. Animals may act out with behaviors that you aren’t accustomed to seeing when they feel threatened, afraid, or overwhelmed. Consider these warnings: Is your pet growling or snapping? Are their ears pressed back against their head? Is their fur standing up along their back?
• In the flurry of activity, party guests may feed your pets too much “people food”. This can cause an upset stomach and other health concerns. Also make sure that pets don’t get into food or candy when no one is looking. Provide treats made especially for dogs/cast for guests to give your pet.


During this time of year, some individuals set out to cause mischief and pets may be intentionally or unintentionally harmed in the process.

• Cats, and especially black cats, are subject to cruel pranks. We recommend that you keep your cat indoors a few days before and after Halloween.
• Do not leave dogs outdoors and unattended.

Please remember that as much as we enjoy Halloween, it is important to be aware of the needs of our pets during this holiday. Should your pet experience an emergency this Halloween, contact your primary care veterinarian or one of Red Bank Veterinary Hospital’s emergency hospitals in Cherry Hill, Tinton Falls, Linwood or Hillsborough by calling (732) 747-3636.