Halloween is right around the corner and while this year will be quite different than prior years, chances are costumes and candy will still be involved.

Most pets are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suits for Halloween festivities. However, the National Retail Federation states that pumpkins and hot dogs are the top two pet Halloween costume picks. If you choose a costume for your pet, introduce it slowly with plenty of treats and positive reinforcement. Cut off any chewable parts or objects that could come off and choke your pet. As much fun as it is for us humans to dress up our furry friends, if your pet seems uncomfortable or frightened (folded down ears, tail tucked between legs) it’s best to take off the costume. 

Ringing door bells and spooky trick or treaters can be stressful. If you will be hosting little ghosts and goblins at your door this year, keeping pets who are fearful away from your front door is in everyone’s best interest. Many animal shelters indicate the day after Halloween is one of their busiest days with lost dogs being turned in. Put your frightened pets in a room with soothing music and favorite toys until all the ghosts and goblins are done for the evening. If your dog is crate trained this is a perfect place for him to chill out during the evening festivities. Make sure your pet is properly identified (microchip, collar and ID tag) in case he escapes through the open door while you’re distracted with trick-or-treaters. Cats are always safest indoors with you, but on Halloween it’s especially important to keep them inside.

Don’t forget that candy bowls are full of potential toxins. Chocolate, gum and the sweetener xylitol are hazardous to pets. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures.  And xylitol, even in small amounts, can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and potentially seizures. It’s always best to keep sweet treats out of reach.