Halloween Pet Safety Tips

Halloween Pet Safety Leesburg Veterinary Hospital

As we prepare for the spookiest night of the year, let’s take a moment to take our furry friends into consideration.  Nothing is more frightening than having to deal with a pet emergency in the midst of the seasonal festivities.  Get our veterinarian-approved tips to be pet-prepared this Halloween weekend.

Furry friends beware – these foods are truly frightful!


Who knew such a sweet treat can be so harmful to pets? Even small amounts can be fatal.

Mini chocolate bars in iconic flavors may be one of our favorite seasonal indulgences, but sharing these sweet treats with our pets is a big no-no. Even if you don’t plan on sharing, many dogs are attracted to chocolate’s dark, rich aroma. In small amounts, chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but in large amounts it can be potentially fatal. Dark chocolates and cocoa powder are particularly toxic in small doses.

According to the ASPCA, chocolate ingestion is the top call their Pet Poison Control Center receives. To learn more about the dangers of chocolate, read our blog post, “The Short and Sweet Summary of Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs.”

Also, be mindful of candy wrappers and lollipop sticks.  As kids excitedly unwrap their Halloween goodies, pets may be apt to snatch and eat the packaging, which can lead to life-threatening bowel obstructions.  Signs of obstruction include lethargy, vomiting, decreased appetite, and decreased or straining to defecate.

Sugarless Sweets Containing Xylitol

Xylitol is a word you may never have heard of, but it’s a common ingredient in many gums, mints, baked goods, and even human dental care products and some peanut butters.   And while you may think it’s not a big deal if your pet sneaks a little piece of gum or a mint, the consequences could be fatal. A sugar substitute, this compound is extremely toxic to pets – even 1-2 pieces of sugar-free gum can cause life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood pressure), seizures, and/or liver failure.

For a real life example of the dangerous effects of xylitol, read the case study on our blog: “The Counter-Surfing Canine: A Cautionary Tale.”


Mini-boxes of raisins are a popular healthy treat for trick-or-treaters but are extremely toxic to dogs, causing liver and kidney failure.  Clinical signs may not show up for days – after damage to the liver or kidneys has already occurred.

For an in-depth list of other people food that is not good for pets, check out this article by the ASPCA.

When in doubt, contact us or call the Poison Control Center hotline.

If you suspect your pet has ingested a harmful food, call us immediately.  If we are closed, we recommend calling the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center’s hotline at 866-426-4435.  (This contact info is also available on their mobile app as discussed above). Please be aware, a $65 consultation fee may apply to the phone call.

When calling us or the hotline, be prepared with the following information:

  • Species, breed, age, sex, weight
  • Symptoms and signs of your pet’s poisoning
  • Name, strength, and amount ingested (have the product container or packaging available for reference)
  • The time elapsed since the time of the exposure

Be Proactive with Pumpkin!

Want to include your pet in the seasonal offerings, but not sure how? Try pumpkin! 100% pure, canned pumpkin (NOT the pumpkin pie filling) is a highly nutritional seasonal treat.  Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber. It helps with digestive regularity; we often recommend adding a tablespoon of pumpkin to pets’ regular food to aide with constipation and diarrhea.  Pumpkin’s high fiber and low calorie content also make it a great choice if you’re working on weight loss.

*Before adding human food to your pet’s diet, please consult with your veterinarian for the appropriate food and dosage.

Pet Friendly Decor

Decorating is a huge part of the Halloween fun!  However, pets are in danger if they are exposed to wires and cords from electric lights, or chew on decorations such as pumpkins and gourds. Keeps pumpkins and candles out of each of animals as they can easily be knocked over by playful and mishieveous pets.

Use Caution with Costumes


Halloween Pet Safety Leesburg Veterinary Hospital

Some dogs and many cats may get stressed out donning a costume.  If your pet seems comfortable dressing up, keep the costumes simple to avoid getting tangled in strings, ties, belts, and sashes. Avoid costumes that restrict movement, vision, or swallowing.  Keep a close eye on your costumed pet at all times, never leaving them unattended in their getup.

Keep Pets Away From Doors

To avoid anxiousness, agitation, fright, or the potential for pets to run through open doors, keep dogs and cats away from your entrance during trick-or-treating hours. Make sure your pets are wearing their ID tags and are micrcochipped so they can be easily returned in case of an escape.

Leave Fido at Home

Even if your pet is a well-behaved leash walker, it may be best for him to sit out the trick-or-treating trek.  The most polite pooches may act up when exposed to the sights and sounds of other yards and strangers’ porches, or get anxious among throngs of costumed kids.  If you insist on bringing your pet along, keep them close to you on a standard six-foot leash – and we’re begging you, leave the retractable leash at home!

Halloween is a great time to have fun with your family and friends, but it’s so important to keep our furry friends safe during the festivities.  We encourage to share our Pet Safety Tips infographic to help spread the word about Halloween pet safety!

Halloween Pet Safety Leesburg Veterinary Hospital

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