5 Tips for a Happy Halloween with your Dog

To Dress Up or Not to Dress Up…


Betty beagle doesn’t mind a silly costume.

Your dog is tooooo cute.  The only thing that could make him more adorable is a clever Halloween disguise, maybe even one that matches yours or is part of a family theme.  While the possibilities for costume ideas seem endless and you have the perfect idea in your head, review your dog’s history first.  Have you ever put clothing on your dog before? If the answer is no, you need to test the waters with something simple now.  If the answer is yes, how did he react?  Where are you taking your dog in the costume?  How long does it need to remain in tact and for how many wearings?  Some dogs won’t stop shaking their heads until those reindeer antlers are on the ground. Others are fine with sweaters pulled over their heads, or jackets with Velcro closures.

A harness-style costume is more appealing to many dogs.

A harness-style costume is more appealing to many dogs.

Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know he’ll love it.  If he loves it, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe or bark.

If your dog hates to dress up but is other-wise well behaved, pare down your expectations. Consider a Halloween patterned collar or harness or a bandana that matches your outfit.  This way, you can all celebrate in style and comfort.

Scary or Scared?

Don’t leave pets out in the yard on HalloweenPranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal or let pets out on Halloween night.  Like other holidays, Halloween comes with strange sights and sounds that may spook (literally) your dog.  Dogs are often terrified of loud, weird sounds or they bark at them uncontrollably. Dogs who are ordinarily good with children and visitors to your front door may not react in their normal manner when the doorbell is ringing repeatedly, the children and visitors are in costumes and your front door keeps opening and closing.  If your dog fits this description, keep them indoors in a quiet, sheltered, escape-proof area of your home.

If you know your pet is a flight risk, consider boarding them offsite during a house party or when you are welcoming throngs of trick-or-treaters. Or keep the doors closed and wait for trick-or-treaters on your porch or driveway.

Treats, Not Tricks…

All forms of chocolate can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs to ingest and Halloween is a big chocolate holiday.  Also, Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. To reduce the risk, consider buying safer goodies for your house, like peanuts, pretzels or candies without xylitol.  Also, when you walk your dog after the big event, keep your eyes peeled for and your dog away from anything the little gremlins dropped in the dark.


Safety First …

Even if your dog handles Halloween costumes (his own and others’) like a champ, be wary of potentially dangerous Halloween decorations such as carved pumpkins with lit candles inside and large corn stalk displays, which an excited dog might knock over or glow sticks/glow jewelry and anything that resembles a bone which a dog may try to chew or swallow.  Whether or not he is dressed for the holiday, be sure your dog is wearing up to date ID tags with your current phone number in case he gets loose and gets lost.

If your dog does not already have a microchip, call your veterinarian to get one. If your dog does get away, vet offices and shelters are all equipped with scanners for microchips. Collars may come off, but the chip can’t.


With a little forethought and preparation, Halloween can be a howling good time for all!  Make sure you get photos!