Halloween Hazards

There are many hazards around the Halloween time that can affect our pets – from candy, to trick or treaters, costumes and more.

Halloween Candy

Any time of year, consuming chocolate can be life threatening to pets, but the risks are greater around Halloween, when bags of candy can be found just about everywhere.


As fun as trick-or-treating is for kids, it can be an upsetting experience for our pets. “Dog owners need to be cognizant of how their dog responds to people in costumes and take all necessary precautions,” Rossman says.

There’s also a risk of indoor pets darting outside when the door is opened. “Take extra precautions to make sure black cats are safely contained at home due to silly Halloween superstitions,” adds Dr. Rachel Barrack, of New York City’s Animal Acupuncture.

On Halloween, give your pets a comfy and safe space where they have plenty of food and water and you won’t have to worry about them escaping or encountering any scary trick-or-treaters, Ryan says. Because pets can get out at any time of year, use Halloween as an excuse to make sure pets’ collars, tags, and microchip registry information is up-to-date, she says.

Pet Halloween Costumes

While it can be tempting to dress up your dog on Halloween, if your pet hates wearing costumes, don’t torture him, Ryan says.

Even if your pet doesn’t mind being dressed up as a superhero or pumpkin, don’t leave him in his costume unsupervised, she says. Components of his outfit could become a choking hazard. There’s also the risk of the outfit getting caught on something and injuring your pet.

Human Halloween Costumes

Dressing up is one of the best parts of Halloween, but be aware that your costume may have strings or loose pieces of fabric that could become choking hazards for pets or result in an obstruction that requires surgery, Ryan says. Signs of accidental ingestion include vomiting and avoiding food.

DIY Halloween costumes can be a creative way to save money, but they can also put your pet at risk, because some craft supplies, including certain glues, can be toxic.

Face paint and Halloween makeup can also be toxic or cause serious allergic reactions, Rossman says, so they should never be used on your pets.

Holiday Visitors

The fall holidays are a popular time to throw a party or host guests. Just make sure you’re keeping an eye on your pets in the process.

Keep your pets far away from guests’ bags, Rossman advises. Something as innocent-seeming as sugar-free gum can be incredibly toxic to dogs, Ryan says. It can also be dangerous if your pet gets into one of your guest’s toiletry bags. Ibuprofen, for example, can cause renal failure, Rossman says. Cosmetics may contain alcohol, which is also dangerous for pets. If your pet exhibits unusual lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea, call your vet or ASPCA animal control immediately, she says.

Also keep in mind that having company can be stressful for dogs and cats, Barrack says. “Make sure they have a safe and quiet place to relax and that they are not inadvertently let out of the home when the door is opened,” she says.