Halloween Safety Tips for Our Animal Companions

By Dr. Joe and Dr. Stephanie Meyer

Halloween may be one of your favorite holidays, but to your pet it can be the spookiest night of the year. With Halloween quickly approaching, Dr. Joe and Dr. Stephanie Meyer from Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital share important safety reminders for us pet owners.

No Tricks-or-Treats: Halloween candy is not for our furry friends. 

  • Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which dogs and cats are very sensitive to. In general, dark or baking chocolate contains higher concentrations of these pet-dangerous ingredients. Chocolate desserts, including hot cocoa and candies, can cause hyperactivity, vomiting and diarrhea, and death in severe cases. 


  • Also beware of macadamia nuts, which sometimes come wrapped in chocolate. Macadamia nuts are a neurotoxin for dogs. Unless a huge amount is ingested, the effects of macadamia nuts are usually temporary, but the pet does often require a hospital stay and supportive care.
  • If you are trying to stave off your sweet tooth with sugarless gum or mints, be sure your furry friend doesn’t get hold of any item containing xylitol. Used as a sugar substitute in many products, xylitol has a delayed liver effect (sometimes a week or two post-exposure) but also a more acute problem: causing life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can lead to seizures and death.

Halloween Pumpkins and Corn: Although pumpkins and decorative corn are relatively non-toxic to our pets, they can cause stomach upset and even intestinal blockages if ingested. Keep these festive decorations away from your pets to avoid a trip to the animal emergency hospital for potential foreign body surgery.

Confinement and Safety: Pranksters can be cruel to animals around Halloween. If you have outdoor pets, please keep them in a confined area (e.g., inside your house, garage, crate) a few days before and after the big night to keep them safe.

Trick-or-Treaters: We love seeing excited children dressed up in their costumes, but they can be downright frightful to our pets. Please keep your pets away from the door to avoid territorial and/or anxious reactions from your animal companions. Keep pets in a secure area away from the front door. This will reduce their stress and also prevent them from dashing out the door into the night.

Halloween Decorations: Many of our decorations have electric cords or candles. Be sure to keep these dangers out of paws’ reach. If an electrical cord is chewed, your pet may suffer from electrical burns or receive a life-threatening electrical shock. If knocked over, a burning candle is not only dangerous to your pet but also your home.

Pet Costumes: Not all pets like to be dressed up. Please do not dress your pet in a costume unless you know your pet does not find it annoying. Be sure the costume does not constrict your pet’s breathing, movement, vision or hearing. Ill-fitting costumes with dangling accessories can be dangerous to your pet.

Identification: Ensure your pet’s identification is up-to-date. Your pet should have a collar with an identification tag, as well as a microchip with your current contact information. If your animal companion does not have an ID tag and/or microchip, now is the time to get them!

In Case of Ingestion: If you have concerns that your animal has been exposed to a toxin, call your pet’s veterinarian, or the Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435, immediately! Your pet has the best chance of surviving a poison if treated as soon as possible.

Further Reading: View more safety tips (beware glow sticks and raisins!) from Pet Poison Helpline.

PVH is available 24/7 for emergency care: 360.568.9111

Article added 10.14.15