Health Hazards Make Halloween a Truly Terrifying Holiday for Family Pets
The Humane Society for Shelter Pets Presents Some Tips and Tricks To Help Keep Pets Safe This Halloween

Washington, DC – With Halloween just a week away the Humane Society for Shelter Pets (HSSP) is offering America’s pet owners some safety tips to ensure this Halloween is truly spooktacular. According to the National Retail Federation, 170 million people plan to celebrate Halloween this year. With so many families participating in All Hallow’s Eve festivities, it’s important to take this opportunity to talk about pet safety.

With every human celebration there are opportunities for lapses in household security resulting in ghastly accidents or devilish escapes. Strangers stopping by in ghoulish costumes can cause plenty of anxiety, while parties offer access to large amounts of food and candy. Although only pigs and dogs — and a certain two-legged animal — seem to be at the greatest risk for overindulging, it’s worth considering a few ways to batten down the hatches and protect pets from mishap. Below is a list of the most common hazards for pets and how to avoid your Halloween turning into a nightmare:

  • Costumes are scary to pets, whether worn by familiar people, strangers, or even pets themselves. The National Retail Federation found that over 15% of people are planning to dress up their animals this Halloween. If you can’t stand leaving Fido out of the family costume, make sure to avoid pet costumes that include hats, masks, or shoes. The American Veterinary Medical Association reminds owners not to leave costumed pets unattended.
  •  Most people are aware that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but hard candies and other sweets containing the ingredient Xylitol, commonly found in gums and mints, can also pose a health risk to your pet. Often in the excitement and chaos of Halloween night, these dangerous treats may be left within easy reach of curious canine noses. As with all human food make sure your candy is placed out of reach of your pet.

    According to the Pet Poison Helpline, owners should be on the lookout for warning signs like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures. If you suspect your dog or cat has gotten into the candy stash, don’t hesitate to call the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680 or online at, or contact your local vet.

  • Dogs are not the only pets known to stick their noses and mouths where they don’t belong. Due to their curious nature, cats can’t help but be attracted to glow sticks and shiny costume jewelry. While not usually life-threatening, treating a glow stick as a chew toy can result in mouth pain and irritation, and lead to excessive drooling and foaming. The Pet Poison Helpline suggests you attempt to wash as much of the chemical off of the fur as you can, as self-grooming can contribute to further poisoning. If left in reaching distance, cheap costume jewelry can also become a major choking hazard for both dogs and cats.

“Pets are always a joy to include in the holiday fun, just don’t forget that even though you may treat your four-legged friend like a human, your pets have some special requirements and restrictions when it comes to celebrating Halloween,” said HSSP Director Diana Culp.

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The Humane Society for Shelter Pets is not designed to raise funds for shelters from the public. Instead, the group’s primary mission is to educate the public about the importance of local giving. For more information visit,