How to Help Your Pet with the Stress of Halloween


Halloween can be a stressful holiday for pets. They have no way of understanding why kids dress in costumes or why the doorbell doesn’t seem to stop ringing. The weeks leading up to the holiday can make them feel anxious with the new-to-them decorations, goodies, and other objects which may heighten curiosity. Fortunately, you can take several steps to make the season more enjoyable for your dog or cat.

Never Share Halloween Treats with Pets

It can be hard to resist sharing a piece of candy with your pet when he looks up at you with sad eyes. You might think it’s harmless, but even a small amount of a treat meant for people can be toxic for your pet. He could suffer immediate gastrointestinal distress, which could include symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. An increased heart rate, rapid rate of breathing, and even seizures can also happen.

Dogs and cats don’t always know what’s good for them and often watch carefully for someone to drop a treat on the floor. Your pet may feel so tempted that she breaks into a candy bag and ingests wrappers or sticks along with the treats. It can quickly turn into a life-threatening situation if something becomes stuck in your pet’s throat and blocks her airways. To avoid these problems, don’t give in when your pet begs and keep all seasonal treats out of her reach.

Costumes: Yea! or Nay?

Few things are as adorable as a pet in a Halloween costume. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun as long as you’re careful. Be certain that the costume doesn’t cover your pet’s eyes or prevent breathing in any way. Also, supervise him closely to ensure that he doesn’t chew off parts of the costume and potentially choke on it. Pay attention to your pet's comfort level, and if you notice extra stress, remove the costume.

Keep Your Pet Away from Lit Pumpkins

A carved, lit jack-o-lantern is a beautiful, festive sight on Halloween night! If you choose to place a burning candle inside a pumpkin, make sure that your pet doesn’t go anywhere near it. A dog could knock it to the ground with an enthusiastic tail wag and a curious cat could burn herself sniffing a new object. An artificial candle that you can turn on and off (but still kept far out of reach) might be a better idea.

Keep Your Pets Indoors

The commotion at the front door could cause even the most docile pet to act aggressively or escape out the door to get away from it. Before Halloween arrives, select an area of the house well away from the door for your pet to hang out until after the trick-or-treating ends, perhaps enriched with calming music and a favorite toy or treat. The same is true if you decide to host a party. Another good reason to keep your pets inside is that someone could steal them or play a cruel prank. Black cats are especially in danger this time of year.

Seek Immediate Help for a Sick or Injured Pet

Some dogs and cats are very determined and their curiosity can get them into medical trouble despite your best efforts. If your pet becomes sick or injured on Halloween, be sure to contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo during regular business hours at 651-770-3250 or one of the following after-hours emergency veterinary clinics:

  • After Hours Veterinary Care, St. Paul, 651-487-3255
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center, Oakdale, 651-501-3766
  • Animal Emergency & Referral Center, St. Paul, 651-293-1800

We wish your entire family (both two-legged and four!) a safe and happy Halloween!

Image credit: Adogslifephoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)