Halloween is one of the most magical nights of the year for us, but it can be a stressful night for our fur-babies.  

Whether it's the doorbell ringing, doors opening and closing, or the unfamiliar stream of faces coming onto your property, there is plenty for dogs and cats to get anxious about during this spooky season. Here are our top tips for enjoying a safe, happy, and healthy HOWL-o-ween with your fur-babies.  

1. Put pets away during trick-or-treating

Trick-or-treating can create a confusing situation for our pets. Having strangers come to the door and leave over and over again is not the norm for most households! Even pets who are normally friendly with people may become stressed, fearful, or protective when faced with guests in full costume, creative masks, and props that make noise or light up.  

The reality is, all pets are safer – and better off – being put away in their own space during trick-or-treating festivities, whether that’s a comfy crate or closed off in a separate room of the house. Halloween night is not the time to be teaching your pet to be comfortable with crowds of people in costume or strangers coming to your front door.  

Of course, you know your pet best. If you have worked hard on your dog’s socialization skills by gradually exposing them to different people and situations over time, you can gauge whether they may be comfortable on Halloween night. But if there’s a possibility that your fur-baby may feel fearful, skittish, or wary of strangers, play it safe! You’ll create a calmer and less stressful evening for your pet by putting them in their own secure space, away from all of the activity. 

2. Be sure your pets are wearing identification

Halloween is one of the most common nights of the year for pets to go missing (along with Independence Day!). With the door opening and closing to greet trick-or-treaters, dogs and cats may become stressed, fearful, or try to bolt. If they do get loose, it's going to feel scary and unfamiliar on a night full of costumes, spooky sounds, and elaborate yard decorations. Ensure your pets are wearing ID tags with your contact information. If you haven't already, look into getting your pet microchipped so in the event that they do become lost, it will be much easier for them to be reuinted with their family.  

3. Keep candy away from curious paws

Most of us already know that chocolate and certain other human foods can be toxic for dogs and cats, but it’s important to recognize that candy in all different forms is dangerous to your pets. An abundance of processed sugar can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues for our fur-babies. The non-edible parts of candy treats, like wrappers and lollipop sticks, can also cause intestinal blockages or serious stomach upset. For dogs and cats that already have a sensitive stomach or digestive trouble, eating a foreign substance can cause a serious medical issue.  

Always monitor your pets (or crate them) when candy is out, and store all of your holiday candy away in a safe place that dogs and cats cannot get into.   

4. Practice safety with Jack o’ Lanterns

Carving a Jack O’ Lantern for your porch or steps is a fun Halloween tradition; just be sure to stay safe when lighting up your creations. A lit candle inside a pumpkin can be a fire hazard for pets and children (and even adults). It’s all too easy for a dog or cat to accidentally knock over a candle and burn themselves or even cause danger in your home. The great news is, there are plenty of modern electronic options for safely lighting Halloween decor. Try flameless LED candle lights in your pumpkins to ensure no risk to your home, pets, or family!   

5. Give your pet something to keep them occupied

While you're busy getting the kids into their costumes, putting out candy, and putting out all of your Halloween decorations, give your fur-baby their own activity! If you're going to crate your pet or put them away in a side room, give them something fun to work on - like a peanut-butter filled Kong, a snuffle mat, lick mat, or other enrichment toy. This not only helps reduce boredom, but can also alleviate stress by giving your pet a fun and positive activity to keep their mind busy. 

6. Consider CBD as a gentle way to soothe anxiety

If your fur-baby struggles with anxiety amid the crowds, noises, and general hulla-baloo of Halloween night, consider using pet-safe CBD supplements to help take the edge off. CBD for pets has been shown to be a gentle solution to combat anxiety and stress. Many pet-safe CBD products come in easy-to-apply oils and chews. If your pet hasn't had CBD before, it's best to start with small doses a few weeks ahead of the holiday, to allow time for their body to adjust and for the CBD to take effect. 

7. Dress your pets responsibly!

Thinking of dressing your fur-baby in costume? Be sure to do it safely! Many dogs - and even cats - can comfortably and calmly wear costumes if they've been properly desensitized to wearing clothing. (In other words, Halloween night shouldn't be the first time your fur-baby has tried on an outfit!) Even with pets who are already desensistized to clothing, always watch for signs of stress and remove the costume if your fur-baby becomes anxious or uncomfortable. Make sure your furry friend has full range of motion and can breathe easily in their costume. Consider lightweight clothing options. Always supervise pets while in costume and be especially cautious of small pieces that can present a choking hazard.  

8. Don’t coddle nervous pets

If your fur-baby is highly anxious, fearful, or even reactive during the holiday festivities, be conscious of how you can best support them. When an animal is highly stressed, it's important not to push or force them past their comfort zone. This can flood their emotions, driving them into a fight-or-flight response, and make them more reactive to similar situations in the future. It's equally important not to coddle or "baby" your pet when they are feeling anxious or highly stressed. You may be tempted to cuddle your fur-baby or soothe them in a "baby voice" when they are scared, but this can actually make them even more fearful. The best response is to calmly and gently lead your fur-baby to a safe space - either a crate or a quiet room to themselves, where they can manage and soothe their stress in a safe and calm environment.  

Have a happy, healthy, and safe HOWL-o-ween!

From our family to yours, Happy HOWL-o-ween! This spooky holiday can be a lot of fun and there are many ways to ensure it doesn't cause any undue stress for your four-legged family members. Make sure to celebrate safely and if you are including your pet in the festivities, stay vigilant of any potential dangers so that you can all enjoy the holiday!