Halloween is right around the corner and while costume parties and trick-or-treating is a fun time for many, it can be a scary time for our pets. Here are some things to help your pet stay safe this spooky season!

Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats; what many people aren’t aware of is that there may be another danger lurking in some candy: xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is in many products in place of sugar. Most commonly, xylitol is found in sugar-free gum, but it can be in many other sugar-free products. While it’s not recommended to give your pets candy anyway, be sure to keep the chocolate and xylitol products well out of reach. Xylitol causes a very rapid and dangerous drop in blood sugar within 10-15 minutes of ingestion and can cause acute liver failure; symptoms include sudden onset of weakness, abnormal gait, vomiting, tremors and collapse. Chocolate can cause a dangerously fast heart rate with a life-threatening irregular rhythm, vomiting, abnormal gait and seizures. If you suspect your pet has ingested a product containing xylitol or chocolate, please call your vet immediately.

While many of us enjoy being spooked and surprised by tricks and costumes on Halloween, our pets are generally less amused. With constant doorbell ringing and a steady stream of trick-or-treaters dressed in (sometimes frightening) costumes, our pets can become very nervous and may respond in unpredictable ways. Some pets will hide somewhere in the house, some will behave more aggressively to protect their home, and some may try to escape altogether. If you are having visitors to your home on Halloween, it is a good idea to move your pets to an area of the house where they can feel safe and secure. Consider turning on a radio or TV to help drown out new noises. Make sure your pet is microchipped and your contact information with the microchip company is up to date. Some pets may benefit from anxiety medications to help them through the day/evening; please contact your vet to see if this is appropriate for your pet. While trick-or-treating is often a family event, you may want to consider keeping your pets at home, especially if they tend to be nervous in unfamiliar situations.

Glow sticks are often used around Halloween and can be lots of fun! Although they can be beneficial to us, our pets may see them as a toy and chew on them. Most glow sticks are labeled as non-toxic, however, the glowing liquid contents are often bitter tasting and will cause profuse drooling in our pets if they get a taste. We also do not want them ingesting any of the plastic pieces that can be harmful to their esophagus, stomach and intestines. Best bet: keep the glow sticks out of reach so your dogs and cats aren’t tempted.

There are many fantastic costumes available to get your pets in the Halloween spirit, but please do not leave your pets dressed up while unattended. Pets may chew up and ingest portions of the costume or get tangled up in string ties and Velcro, especially if they’re not used to wearing clothing. If your pets do have a costume, tag us in your photos – we love seeing your pets all dressed up!

We hope you and your pets have a fright-free Halloween with these tips!