By Jennifer Hennessey, Animal ER of Northwest Houston, DVM, CVJ, CCRP, CVAT

The veterinary emergency room can be the scariest place to visit with your pet on Halloween. Sadly, our furry friends are at risk of injury and accidental illness during a holiday season. Traditions are the center of family fun during Halloween, so have fun creating new traditions centered on celebrating while keeping your pet safe. 

  1. Tag and collar shopping! Halloween is a fun time to shop for fun and festive collars to spice up your pet’s ID wardrobe. Pets easily can exit homes and go missing during “candy passing” at the front door when little ghosts and goblins come trick-or-treating. Therefore, Halloween is a perfect time to stop and check your pet’s ID. Make sure collars fit well and ID tag details are current. If your pet has a microchip, verify chip registration with your current address and information. 
  2. Costume fun with less risk! If your family cannot resist those devilishly cute costumes, make sure the costume is appropriate and safe for your pet. A costume should fit securely, without being restrictive, allowing freedom of movement. A safe costume should not have any decorations that could be chewed off and accidentally ingested. Always accompany your pet when your furry friend is dressed up to supervise their safety. 
  3. Party Time! Pick your pet’s Halloween “party place” i.e. where your pet will stay during holiday festivities. If you’re hosting a spooktacular event, you’ll want to find a secure place away from activities, indoors, for your pet to rest. Pets can often become stressed by visitors and celebrations, and benefit from having their own place to relax away from the commotion. Keep in mind that Fido’s idea of fun also may not be the same as yours! If you have outdoor pets, particularly black cats, it is best to secure them indoors during Halloween night. 
  4. Treat time! Candy and sweets are common when it comes to Halloween. Unfortunately, many types of candy including chocolate and products with xylitol are harmful to your pet if ingested. Make a tradition to store goodies out of reach from curious noses. Avoid the temptation to share candy with pets by having pet-safe snacks handy. Sharing human food could lead to illness including vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, or worse… toxicity!
  5. Let’s Celebrate! Find a Howl-O-Ween event as October often offers opportunities at local events and outdoor festivals for celebration time for both families and four-legged friends. If you have a properly socialized dog (good with people and other pets), these activities can be lots of fun and provide a yearly tradition that even your Fido will look forward to!

As Halloween approaches, consider your pet in every aspect of planning. Among your celebration traditions, include having your veterinarian’s information accessible for those accidents that can sneak up during festivities. To learn more about risks of holiday toxins such as chocolate, contact the ASPCA Poison Control at Incorporating pet-friendly traditions into your Halloween will help the holiday be a little less spooky for both you and your furry pals.