The doggie don'ts of Halloween

By Dalia Wheatt
Published October 26, 2007

If you think Halloween is scary for you, just be glad you're not experiencing the fright fest on four legs.

You're probably aware of the dangers pets face during the holidays - glass ornaments mistaken for tennis balls, tinsel that could get caught in a puppy's throat, stringed lights that beg to be chewed - but Oct. 31 can be just as fur-raising.

Here are some tips to keep your pet safe on Halloween.


- Before trick-or-treating begins, take Spot on a long walk to calm his nerves.

- Leave Sparky at home while the kids go trick-or-treating. All those little people in costumes will only freak him out. Next thing you know, your child loses control of the leash and Sparky goes darting into traffic. Moreover, pranksters are known to steal or harm pets on Halloween.

- Oct. 31 is prime time for pets to escape, as you open the front door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters. Keep Fido in a back room with the door closed, or use a baby gate to partition him from the front of the house. To distract him from the ringing doorbell and spooky-looking visitors, turn on soft music and offer him a new toy.

- In case your pet does go AWOL, make sure he's wearing a collar and ID tags.

- Spare Buddy the discomfort and humiliation of wearing that Superman cape. If you absolutely feel the need to dress up your pet, choose a costume that leaves his eyes, ears, mouth and nose exposed. Make sure his movement is unrestricted, and check for dangling parts on which he might trip or choke.


- Use a cord cover to keep teething pets from gnawing on wires.

- Ixnay on the fake spider webs, especially if you have a cat. Kitty will mistake the cobwebs for a stringy plaything, and they can clog her intestines, leading to lethargy, vomiting and even death.

- Instead of candles, use a glow stick or battery-powered tea light to illuminate your jack-o'-lanterns. We wouldn't want a wagging tail knocking over your pumpkin and starting the Great Tampa Bay Fire.


- You've heard it before: no chocolate. It contains a chemical called theobromine that's toxic, and in large doses lethal, to dogs. Symptoms of theobromine poising include vomiting and restlessness. The sweetener Xylitol, found in sugar-free gums and candies, is bad for your pet, too. Candy wrappers can also be harmful if swallowed.

- Halloween parties mean bobbing for apples or plunging your hand into a bowlful of "eyeballs," a.k.a. peeled grapes. Dogs are allergic to apple seeds and grapes, so keep it simple: No people food of any kind for your furry friend.

- Keep your vet's number handy, and call the doc if your pet appears sick or hurt.

Sources: PetFinder.com, The Humane Society of the United States