Keep pets safe on Halloween

| October 27, 2011

I recently spent about four hours at our 24-hour emergency vet hospital waiting for my golden retriever mix, Sadie, to throw up. Thankfully we discovered her incursion into our Halloween candy stash very soon after it happened, and she’s going to be just fine. I did, however, learn a few lessons that night.

The first is that a 45-pound dog will eat far more candy bars than you can imagine. She will eat them, wrapper and all, which may lead you to believe that she only ate a few. And you can determine the actual number eaten, only if the bag displays the quantity. Ours did. We counted. She ate 54 pieces of mini Snickers, Milky Ways, Twix bars and Peanut M&Ms, still in their packaging.

I also learned that you can never be too careful or too thorough in keeping dangers like a bag of chocolate from your dog. Despite the usual safeguards and the fact that Sadie had never shown interest in getting human food off a table, this time she decided to do just that.

With Halloween coming up, I felt it was worth sharing my story with you as well as a few other tips to help keep your pets safe for Halloween.

Tip 1:  Make sure your dog or cat doesn’t run away on Halloween. Between the constant doorbell ringing, people dressed up in costumes and you being distracted, Halloween is a big night for lost dogs and cats. The combination of all these factors could lead to your pet’s heightened anxiety, and a frightened pet may do things you’d never expect under normal circumstances. If you have any doubt as to your pet’s reaction to the likely events of the evening, make sure you put them in a closed room until the activity settles down.

Tip 2: Make sure your pet’s identification is in place and up to date. If your dog or cat doesn’t wear an ID tag, now is the time to get one. If the tags aren’t up to date, get a new one and be sure to include your mobile phone number and email address. Finally, if your dog or cat does not have an embedded microchip, now is the time to have your vet insert one. If your pet does get out of the house or yard during all of the Halloween hubbub, these precautions will increase the likelihood of a safe return home.

Tip 3: Keep your pet away from carved pumpkins and lighted jack-o’-lanterns. Unlike chocolate, pumpkin is not necessarily poisonous for animals; however, it can cause an upset stomach. It’s also important to make sure lighted jack-o’-lanterns are well out of reach of curious noses and wagging tails. The result of not following this tip could be a singed tail or much worse.

Tip 4:  We all know just how cute a dog or cat in costume looks, but make sure they don’t mind being decorated. Despite all the adoring comments you will get on your Facebook page, wearing a costume may actually be very stressful for your pet. If you insist on dressing them up, keep the duration short, maybe just long enough for those pictures.

Here’s hoping you and your pets have a happy – and safe – Halloween!

David Loignon is the owner of Home Buddies Premier In-home Pet Care. You can reach him at or online at

Category: The Pet Buddy

About the Author (Author Profile)

David Loignon
After 25 years as a journalist and television production executive I turned
my career 180 degrees and opened a pet care business; Home Buddies
Louisville. I couldn’t abandon journalism altogether though, so now I write
The Pet Buddy, a weekly column to help you improve the lives of your
four-legged family members. When I’m not hanging out with my wife Julie and
our rescued fur-kids you will find me on a bicycle racing for The Cycling Team.

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