Halloween is a beloved time of year for many families. Dressing up, trick-or-treating, passing out candy, and all the fun decorations are what makes the holiday so special year after year. 

For our four-legged family members, however, Halloween can be truly frightening, and may even be dangerous. Read on to learn about how to have a happy Howl-o-ween for all!

Decor Dilemmas

Some humans enjoy being frightened or spooked during this season, but to a pet there is no such thing as a “fun” scare. Many pets find Halloween decorations, especially animatronic displays or creepy lawn decor, truly frightening. 

Helping to socialize your pet to Halloween decorations can go a long way towards reducing their fear. Starting slowly, and gradually building up your pet’s exposure to decorations as they get comfortable is the key. 

Try our tips:

  • Expose your pet to animatronic displays while they are turned off. Don’t create tension by soothing your pet or forcing them to go near a display, simply stay nearby and remain calm and relaxed. Eventually your pet will take your cues that there is nothing to worry about.
  • Walk your pet through the neighborhood and repeat this process as you pass by houses with decorations your pet finds upsetting by standing calmly on the sidewalk in front of the home with your pet until they are feeling more relaxed. Walk your pet both during the day and at night to get them exposed to both settings.
  • When your pet is relaxed around an animatronic or lawn decoration, repeat the socialization process with the display turned on. 
  • In some cases, offering treats to your pet while they are in view of a scary decoration can help create a positive association.
  • Outlandish costumes, even on the people they love, can be disconcerting for pets. Allow your pet to sniff and investigate a costume before it’s put on by a family member, offering treats and praise.
  • Some pets never really “get used to” these types of decorations. If your pet falls into this category, we recommend removing these objects from your home and property.

Other Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Social pets may enjoy the hustle and bustle of Halloween, but for many it’s an upsetting time of year that disrupts their comforting routine. It always pays to exercise caution when it comes to candy, costumes, and trick-or-treaters.

  • Keep all candy away from pets. Most people know that chocolate is toxic to pets, but there are plenty of other potential hazards in the trick-or-treat bag, including anything sweetened with Xylitol, raisins, macadamia nuts, lollipops with sticks, and even candy wrappers, which can lead to intestinal blockage if consumed.
  • Candles and lit pumpkins inside a home with pets is asking for trouble. Switch to battery-operated candles for a safer option.
  • There’s nothing cuter than a pet in costume, but not all pets enjoy playing dress up. If your pet doesn’t mind wearing clothing, make sure their costume doesn’t restrict breathing, vision, or movement, and has no small or dangling parts that can be chewed off or wrapped around them.

We hope you and your pet have a safe and happy Howl-o-ween. As always, your team at Blue Valley Animal Hospital is only a phone call away to address your pet Halloween safety concerns.