Halloween can be no treat for pets; owners need to be wary of candy, decoration dangers


Happy Halloween from Dumbo, aka Papa (A505282). This sweet 2-year-old beefcake is waiting to be the wide receiver of your heart! Papa is no benchwarmer — he is bursting with zeal and stamina and puts his all into a good game of fetch, taking a time out only for belly rubs. Despite his ample size, he prefers affection and playtime to treats, showing that he really is longing to be part of a team. Come meet Papa!

Boo! Halloween is just around the corner.

As a child, this was one of my favorite holidays. My best human friend, Allatia, and I would scour our households and create wonderful costumes. Given our mothers’ wide collections of rhinestone jewelry, hats and wigs, plus our older sisters’ leftover prom dresses and 1960s attire — and of course, lots of makeup — we usually looked quite remarkable.

Then we would head out early and stay out late, going to as many houses and getting as much candy as possible. At an early age, we were on our own without parental supervision, which would be unheard of in today’s world. And, we never would have thought to bring our dogs along.

Nowadays, it seems like more pets are joining in on the Halloween fun than ever before. And, safety for both children and pets must be a primary concern.

While I understand the temptation to include your pet during trick-or-treating, it’s best if they stay at home and away from your front door. You never know how your pet will react to strangers in costumes, and they may gobble up a tempting piece of chocolate candy without you noticing.

Most dog lovers know chocolate is particularly dangerous for pups. So are raisins, sugar-free candy with xylitol, candy corn and macadamia nuts. Wrappers also pose a serious challenge to our pets’ digestive system, potentially causing life-threatening obstructions.

If you want to give your pooch something special for the holiday, opt for Halloween-themed pet treats. Pumpkin-flavored dog biscuits are a favorite of many dogs at the shelter. Pick some up at pet supply stores, like our Shelter Shop, or opt for your own spooktacular homemade pet treats.

And please keep your decorations pet-friendly this year. Jack-o-lanterns look just as spooky with flameless candles while eliminating the risk of burns, singed fur and fires. Glow sticks may be mistaken for chew toys, so keep them away from pets.

It’s not just our companion animal friends that face increased risk during this spooky season. We need to consider our wildlife neighbors safety, too. Candy poses significant risks to wild animals, so don’t leave candy out where critters can gobble it up.

Fake spider webs and other decorations made of fibers or netting can easily entangle wildlife. It’s also a good idea to stay away from decorations with loops or closed circles that could entrap an animal. Also, steer clear of decorations with small, dangling parts that a curious critter may confuse for food.

Snacking on pumpkins is a favorite pastime of many wild animals. It’s generally safe so long as the pumpkins are not coated, painted or filled with real candles. But a warning — it can leave quite a mess. Try composting your pumpkins post-holiday to deter hungry wildlife.

Now, back to pets…if you can’t resist the temptation to dress them up, make sure the costume fits them well and doesn’t interfere with their ability to breathe, move or see. Remove the outfit if you notice your pet displaying any discomfort or if they appear stressed. If they don’t fancy playing dress up, try a Halloween-themed bandana, toy or cozy blanket instead.

Many pets go missing at Halloween, so make sure your pet is microchipped and is wearing an ID tag with your current contact information. If your pet gets out, search your local shelters and post on social media, Nextdoor and lost pet websites.

For more tips and to view all stray animals at our shelter, visit pasadenahumane.org/lost

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on October 28, 2022.