Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Halloween celebrations are filled with thrills but this time of year can pose serious scares and threats to our pets. Here’s a few tips to help keep your pets safe while you partake in Halloween fun.

Keep Candy Out of Reach

Chocolate ingestion is one of the most common poisonings reported in pets. Chocolate contains chemicals called methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine, that cause the toxic effects. These are found in the highest concentrations in baking chocolate and dark chocolate but all types of chocolate are potentially dangerous. Signs of toxicity typically start with vomiting and diarrhea a few hours after ingestion. If not treated, signs can progress to increased restlessness, increased heart rate, seizures, coma and death. Chocolate toxicity depends on the amount consumed, type of chocolate ingested and size of the animal (smaller pets are sensitive to smaller amounts).

Chocolate covered macadamia nuts or raisins pose an even greater toxicity threat. Macadamia nuts can cause dogs to develop weakness, depression, vomiting, loss of balance and tremors. Signs typically occur within 12 hours after ingestion. Even small amounts of raisins or grapes can lead to kidney failure in dogs and cats. Most dogs and cats develop vomiting and diarrhea within 12 hours of ingestion progressing to classic signs of kidney failure: inactivity, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weakness, dehydration, increase thirst and shivering.

Halloween Dog

Pets should never be allowed to eat sugar free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol. Xylitol can cause profound hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in dogs and in some cases liver failure can occur as well. Signs can develop as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion but be delayed up to 18 hours. Vomiting, weakness, loss of balance, depression and tremors are all signs of hypoglycemia and can progress seizures, coma and death. If liver failure is involved skin, mucous membranes or the white part of the eye may develop a yellow tinge. Prolonged bleeding or bruising may also occur.

Not every dog that eats a chocolate kiss is in danger, but if your dog or cat does get into a Halloween stash, call your veterinarian immediately. Early intervention is critical!

Halloween Festivities

In general it is best to keep pets away from the Halloween festivities. Some animals become distressed by the change in environment and the increased noise of doorbells and trick or treaters may cause pets to act out of character, resulting in an biting or escaping. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure your pet is wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.


While pets might look cute in costumes, costumes that do not fit well can obstruct your pet’s ability to move, hear, or even breathe. Pets that do not like wearing a costume can become quite stressed in the effort to remove it. Be aware of elastic and other costume fasteners that can become caught on your pet.


Another thing to consider are the safety hazards to pets and your entire family when pumpkins and candles are lit. Pets may knock these items over resulting in your pet being burned or other items catching on fire.

The good news about pumpkins is a small amount can make for a tasty, healthy treat for your pet. As always, always check with your veterinarian first before offering your pet a new diet or treat.