Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys


It’s that time of year again – as ghost and goblins delight us with their spooky mischief and thoughts turn to trick or treating, the ASPCA offers the following tips to keep your furry family members safe this Halloween.

1.  No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy.  Chocolate in all forms – especially dark or baking chocolate – can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate-and even seizures.  Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. In cases of significantly low blood sugar, liver failure has been known to occur.  Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are swallowed.

3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

The ASPCA works to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws and share resources with shelters nationwide. Learn more about them by visiting

Photo by Alisha Vargas, Flickr Creative Commons

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8 Comments on No Scaredy Cats this Halloween – Safety Tips for Your Pets

  1. Another handy tip; if you’ve a storm/screen door you, remove the top glass and/or screen panel for Halloween. It will allow you to pass the treats through the top without opening the storm door itself.

  2. Layla, that’s awful about your friend’s cat. I know a lot of shelters have a ban on black cat adoptions right around Halloween. Black cats have a hard enough time getting adopted as it is, so this is not helping their plight.

    Ann, these cat cages look really nice.

  3. This is excellent advice. My cats are generally outdoor pets. For their safety I purchased an outdoor cat cage to keep them from wondering off or getting stolen. The cat cage is made by Cages By Design —experts in the industry. It is extremely roomy and allows my pets to play, soak up the sun and explore in a safe environment. I plan to keep my cats in their cat cage during Halloween to prevent any harm from coming to them.

  4. Ingrid, thanks for these excellent reminders. I’d like to add, many shelters including my local one suspends adoptions of black cats prior to Halloween for their safety. And please keep all indoor/ourdoor cat inside if possible. A friend’s dear black cat disappeared on Halloween and was never seen again.

  5. Sounds like your cats are quite brave, Karen and Gerard. Amber hated Halloween, the constant sound of the doorbell would send her running and hiding.

    Angie, your social cat sounds like she’s going to have a great time at Halloween!

  6. Great tips, Ingrid! I have one very social cat who will meet kids at the door, but the other two just hide.

  7. Our cats like to sit on our dining room table and look out the window and all the visitors. Our dog likes to come outside with us to greet the trick-or-treaters and help us pass out the candy.

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