It's officially that time of year: Halloween decorations are hitting the shelves and people are gearing up for the spooky season. As you start to make a wish list of new decorations, be sure to choose ones that are safe to display in homes with pets.
Halloween decorations and pets
Halloween decorations can be downright scary — and not in a fun way — for pets. Decorations that light up, move, and make noise can frighten pets. Dogs may be spooked by inflatable yard decorations. You might even find your pup avoiding them on neighborhood walks. With their sensitive eyesight and hearing, cats can also be frightened by both indoor and outdoor decorations. This can especially be the case with ones that use movement, light, or sound.
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Pets may also be intrigued by Halloween decorations, not realizing they aren't awesome new toys you brought home just for them. Pets could burn an inquisitive paw or nose on the candles inside jack-o-lanterns, and can accidentally start fires if they knock one over. If carving pumpkins is one of your traditions, keep them outside and away from pets. Keep lit candles out of your pet's reach. Never leave a pet unattended with a burning candle. Battery-powered LED candles are a safer option and come in a variety of styles to suit your spooky decor needs.
Stringy cobwebs, light strands, and electrical cords also pose a hazard to pets. Cats may be drawn to lights and can become entangled in them. Puppies and kittens might see an electrical cord as a chew toy and can injure themselves chewing through wires. Keep stringy decorations, cords, and wires out of reach of your pets, or move the decorations outdoors.
Choosing pet-safe Halloween decorations
Consider your pet's safety and comfort when choosing Halloween decorations. Assume that pets won't get used to a scary decoration during the short time you have it displayed. Decorations that use motion, light, or sound may scare pets too much to have indoors.
A frightening object in a pet's environment can create fearful behavior that extends beyond Halloween. Both cats and dogs may make associations between the scary object and the part of the house they are displayed in. This could lead to anxious behaviors like hiding, refusing to eat, avoiding certain parts of the house, or refusing to go outside.
Indoor decorations should be limited to those that aren't overstimulating. Lights and flameless candles are safe when kept out of reach of pets. But, decorations with flashing red eyes can also be frightening to them. Avoid putting decorations that move or make sounds indoors.
Move strand lights, cobwebs, and other stringy decorations outdoors — if you can't find an out-of-reach spot indoors. Pets can still be frightened by outdoor decorations that move, make noise, or light up if they can see or hear the activity from inside. Large or inflatable decorations may also be too frightening when displayed in view of pets.
Halloween pet costumes
It's a fact: few things are cuter than a pet wearing a Halloween costume. While some pets are comfortable wearing clothes, it can be stressful for others.
A pet's comfort level in a costume will depend on their individual personality. If you have an outfit in mind for your pet, introduce them to it slowly while giving treats and praise. Avoid costumes with decorations or accessories that could be a choking hazard. Watch your pet for signs of discomfort or anxiety, and remove the costume if they seem stressed. Never leave a pet in a costume unattended.
Halloween safety tips for Halloween night
Whatever your plans for Halloween night, set your pet up for comfort and safety. Cats and dogs may be scared by parties, people in costumes, trick-or-treaters, knocking at the front door, and the doorbell ringing.
Keep pets safe by putting them in a quiet room away from any festivities. Make sure your pet has an up-to-date microchip and ID tag in the event of an escape.
Keep tricks and treats away from pets. Candy wrappers and choking hazards like lollipop sticks can cause an intestinal blockage if swallowed by pets. Sugar-free candy, and xylitol sweetener in Halloween candy, are toxic to cats and dogs in small quantities. Glow sticks present a nasty-tasting choking hazard. The oily liquid inside, while not toxic, can cause drooling and vomiting if ingested by cats or dogs.
The bottom line
Choose Halloween decorations that don't pose a danger to your pet's safety or comfort. They can get tangled in lights or cobwebs and be scared by large outdoor decorations. Pets can burn themselves on lit candles or accidentally start fires. Halloween candy is toxic to pets. On Halloween night, keep pets indoors and in a quiet area away from festivities and candy. Have a fun and safe Halloween!