Have a pet-safe Halloween!

Karen Johnson, DVM, of Banfield Pet Hospital in Portland, OR, offers tips to protect your pet this Halloween:

dog in pumpkin costume, halloween dog

Stomper is in our Halloween photo gallery. Submit your pet’s photo!

Don’t put your pet in a costume unless you know she loves it. If your pet loves being dressed up, be sure the costume you choose isn’t constricting, unsafe or annoying, since this can stress your pet.

Be wary of costumes that use rubber bands to keep them in place, because your pet could chew them off and swallow them, potentially choking or suffering an intestinal injury. Rubber bands can also become tangled around a leg or the tail, cutting off blood supply.

Finally, be careful not to obstruct your pet’s vision, as even gentle pets may react in fear when they can’t see what’s going on.


Keep your pet inside. Pet escapes seem to rise this time of year. Pets may become frightened by changes in routine and activity or overwhelmed by friends and family stopping by the house for holiday visits.

Keep an eye on your home’s entrances and get your best friend an early holiday gift — a new properly fitting collar with ID tags. (If your pet’s not microchipped, download this coupon for 50% off the cost of microchipping your pet at any Banfield Pet Hospital by Nov. 30.)

Keep pets away from the front door. During trick-or-treat hours, keep your pet in a separate room away from the front door. Dogs may feel the need to protect their homes and people, and may act aggressively or bite visitors in strange costumes. Your pet may also become frightened, dart through an open door and become injured or lost.

Keep candles and lit pumpkins away from pets. Pets are attracted to bright lights in dark rooms. Candles can be knocked over easily, spilling hot wax on furniture and carpet, and potentially causing fires. Curious kittens, in particular, run the risk of getting badly burned when trying to play with open flames. If a pet gets burned, he should be seen immediately by a veterinarian.

Don’t take your pet trick-or-treating. Pets may find it frightening to sit in a dark car while scary creatures of every size and shape walk by. Furthermore, your normally friendly pet can become aggressive and protective and lash out at a friendly ghost or witch. For the safety of your pets, leave them at home and inside, where they are comfortable and safe.

Don’t give your pet candy. Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that can be poisonous to your pet. Dark, semi-sweet and baker’s chocolate can be lethal if ingested. Caramel apple sticks can be swallowed and cause choking or intestinal blockage, as can candy wrappers. Candy can also upset the stomach, resulting in diarrhea or vomiting.


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About the author:

Karen Johnson, DVM, is a 1988 graduate of Oregon State University and Washington State University Colleges of Veterinary Medicine, as well as Banfield’s vice president and client advocate. As a Banfield team member since 1988, Dr. Johnson’s role as client advocate allows her to support clients across the practice dealing with difficult situations. In addition, she manages Banfield’s Hospital Audit Program for Excellence, a unique look at client service from the client’s perspective.

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