You may love getting scared to death on Halloween; your pets most likely do not

Categories: PHS Blog

Did you know there are more haunted houses in the United States than Target stores? True story. Apparently, there is something really attractive to people about the idea of being intentionally scared out of their minds in a safe space, because there are roughly 2700 haunted attractions operating across the country this time of year.

I can see the appeal. It is fun to watch my friends freak out when a creepy goblin jumps out from the shadows. Last week I went to a haunted house with my cousin, Francine. She was the perfect person to go with because not only does she scare easily, but she’s also a total drama queen – so I knew it was going to be fun night watching her lose her marbles over and over again, on purpose.

And let me tell you, she did not disappoint. As we made our way through the “scary” mazes, she jumped, screamed, and even tried walking through with her eyes closed – too terrified to see the manufactured horror unfold in front of her.

As part of the haunted experience, dozens of hired actors dressed in scary costumes roamed the park to entertain and startle guests – making loud noises and sometimes chasing terrified spectators. At one point, guy dressed as a zombie came up behind Francine and growled. She was so startled she accidentally smacked him upside the head with her Diet Coke. I told you…drama queen. That’s just Francine. And I wouldn’t have her any other way.

I, on the other hand, walked through the park and mazes with a calm indifference of a dead person. Or undead person. Try as they might, the dressed-up actors couldn’t seem to get me to react with fear. It baffles and annoys everyone. But that’s just me.

That night got me thinking about what Halloween festivities must be like for our animal friends. For some of us (like me), loud noises or scary looking figures don’t elicit a strong fear response. For others (like Francine), being startled or frightened suddenly can bring about certain instinctive reactions– like screaming, running, hiding, or yielding a Diet Coke as a weapon.

Dogs, cats and critters are no different. Some aren’t easily frightened. But for those that are, fear can bring out behaviors that our completely out of character, and potentially dangerous for them or others.

Since this Halloween week is going to be filled with parties, crowds, trick-or-treaters, and lots of sweets, it’s more important than ever to keep your pets safe and away from frightening situations. Here’s my advice:

  • Trick-or-treating is for humans only. While it may be tempting to take your pet for the candy hunt, rest assured they are best left at home. Strange costumes and lots of neighborhood activity might be fun for you and your family, but it’s a total buzz kill for your dog.
  • Keep candy out of your pet’s reach. All forms of chocolate can be toxic to cats and dogs. If your pet does ingest candy, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Costumes aren’t for everyone. If your pet doesn’t mind getting into the Halloween spirit with a costume (like Kilo or Elsie, pictured above) – go for it! Just make sure to remove dangling pieces that may be a hazard to them. If your pet does not like its costume, then do not force it on him or her. That’s not cool.
  • Give your pet the night off in a quiet room. If you’re having a party at home, or you’re expecting strangers in costumes to be coming to your door seeking candy hand-outs all evening, do your pet a favor and give them a safe haven away from the festivities – like a back bedroom. Turn on their favorite animal planet show, or turn on some soft music. Walk your dog before the trick-or-treating starts and bring cats inside well before dark.
  • Check their ID at the door. Make sure your pet is wearing a current ID tag and their microchip has up-to-date contact information. If your pet does get lost, please visit Pasadena Humane Society or your local animal shelter daily to look for him or her. Visit to see pictures of the animals in our care.
  • Doorbell Damage Control: Excessive ringing of the doorbell is annoying, and can make some dogs bark and raise their stress levels. Consider leaving a note on your door that asks trick-or-treaters to lightly knock rather than ring the doorbell.

In the midst of Halloween festivities, we also just celebrated National Pit Bull Awareness Day by waiving our adoption fees for all Pit Bulls over the weekend.

During our promotional photo shoot, we got into the Halloween spirit and played dress-up with Kilo, Pineapple, and Elsie. Since they have ever met a camera they didn’t love to smile for, we decided to reward their insane cuteness by extending our adoption waiver for Pit Bulls for the rest of this week. All three of them are still available, so if you need some more character in your life – come down and get to know them!