Party With Your Pet: A Halloween How To

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many.  Candy, costumes, and all the spooky fun a person could ask for.  But for pets, it’s often a different story. What’s fun for you, could be scary and overwhelming for them.

While many of us spend days, weeks–even months–creating our costumes, perfecting our party playlists, and getting ready for terrifying trick-or treaters, our pets may not share in our enthusiasm for any of this.  As pet owners, it’s important to keep our pet’s safety and comfort at the forefront of our Halloween hooplas.

We’ve paired up with our friends at Costume Express, the pet costume experts, to bring you a go-to guide for keeping your Halloween fun, and pet-friendly…

english bulldog resting beside a festive halloween pumpkin

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1.) To Costume or Not to Costume?  That is the Question…

Nowadays, there are almost as many pet costumes as there are pets (we have many for sale in our Adoption Center *hint, hint*). But not all pets will appreciate being dressed up in a costume. Dressing up may be a big part of the holiday, but nothing should be more important than your pet’s comfort and safety.

Dressing up your pet in a costume can be really fun, but make sure your pet actually enjoys being in the costume.  If your pet clearly dislikes the costume and looks unhappy or uncomfortable, don’t force them to wear it.  Try a fun Halloween collar or bandana instead.

2.) Decorations and Candy

Jack-o’-lanterns and candles are a great way to set a spooky tone for your party or trick-or-treaters, but they can also be a hazard for curious (or just clumsy) pups and cats. Not only does this put your pet at risk for burns, but it could start a fire. Even electrical pumpkins and other corded decorations can be dangerous. When decorating your house, keep all electrical cords and wires out of your pet’s reach.


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Another big part of any Halloween celebration is the candy–but you’ll also want to make sure to keep it away from your furry friend. Especially candy that contains chocolate, xylitol, or raisins, which can be toxic to dogs. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, emergency vet calls increase by 12 percent on and around Halloween, making it their busiest time of year.

It’s not just candy that’s harmful to pets, either. Dogs often eat wrappers and lollipop sticks, which can lead to digestive issues. The Pet Poison Helpline suggests watching for signs, including a loss of appetite or potty-time problems. If your dog has any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.

You can still give your pet a special treat that fits with the Halloween spirit. There are plenty of yummy Halloween recipes that you can use to prepare some homemade snacks, like this fun recipe for peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats.


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3.) Trick-or-Treating

Most of us love hearing the doorbell ring and opening the door to see all the creative costumes. However, the noise and festive chaos can make your pet feel anxious, leading to unpredictable behavior. Try keeping your pet in a separate room with his or her favorite toys and calming noises, like the television or a radio. This can help reduce your pet’s stress.


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Keep in mind that animals can also be scared by the costumes. Scared pets can act unpredictably, meaning even the friendliest dogs can suddenly become aggressive. Try staying outside on your porch (with your pet inside) to hand out candy, rather than opening the door every single time. This will help prevent your dog from barking at or reacting aggressively toward trick-or-treaters.

If you’re considering bringing your pet along with you during trick-or-treating, keep in mind that there are many things that might rile up or frighten your pet, which could also lead to unpredictable and undesirable behavior. However, if you are completely sure your dog can handle it, it’s important to follow local laws and ordinances. In particular, be sure that your pet is leashed at all times.

4.) Pet ID’s and Microchipping

No matter what time of year it is, it’s important to make sure your pet has proper identification. Whether your dog is in costume or not, always make sure your pet has an up-to-date ID tag. For added protection, make sure your pet is microchipped, and that the chip is registered. Scanning for a microchip is one of the first steps a shelter or animal control agency will take when a lost pet is picked up. When the microchip is registered to the owner, they can contact you immediately.  Halloween may be all about scary fun, but there’s nothing more scary (or less fun) than losing a beloved pet.


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CBHS offers microchipping in our Adoption Center, with multiple microchip clinics held throughout the year.  Stay tuned to our events page for the next upcoming clinic either here in our shelter, or at a community shelter near you.

5.) Say Cheese!

If your dog is wearing a costume, we’re sure you’ll want to take plenty of spooky (but mostly adorable) snapshots. Here are some tips on taking amazing pictures–even for the less-than-professional photographer.


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First, understand that getting a great picture will require a lot of practice. Pets are like children – they don’t like to stay still, especially for photographs.  Use squeaker toys and treats to get your pup’s attention and reward them in between shots. Also, try to avoid using flash photography. Bright lights are incredibly unpleasant for animals.

In conclusion, involving your four-legged friend in your Halloween traditions can be tons of fun, as long as your pet is kept safe and happy. You know your pet better than anyone.  Use that knowledge to decide what is and isn’t appropriate for your situation and your pet.  Happy Howl-oween, everybody!

Additional Sources

“How to Include Your Dog in Your Halloween Fun.”, Sept. 11, 2015

“Halloween Dangers to Dogs and Cats.”, 2015

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats,

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