Halloween is a holiday that is best enjoyed with the entire family. For many people, getting everyone together for Halloween means including the family pet as well. Lots of pet owners enjoy dressing their pets up for Halloween just as much as they enjoy wearing costumes themselves. Halloween is a fun time for dogs and cats too, but there are many dangers that you as a pet owner should be aware of to keep your pets safe for Halloween.

Know Your Pet

The most important part of keeping your pet safe for Halloween is to understand the type of animal they are, and whether or not Halloween is really a holiday that your dog or cat should celebrate with everyone else. Some pets are better off not joining the family for a Halloween party or for trick or treating around the neighborhood. Your pet might be better off staying home if they exhibit any of the following traits:

– Aggression: Does your pet get aggressive when houseguests come over? Do they charge people on the street when you take them for walks? If so, it may not be a good idea to bring them along for Halloween. Even if your dog loves children normally, he or she may get frightened by the costumes that the children are wearing, especially if the kids are swinging around swords or lightsabers or magic wands.

– Small Size: Children aren’t known for their attentiveness when they go out on Halloween. If you have a smaller sized pet like a Chihuahua or a cat, they may get stepped on by children or run over by strollers. There’s a lot of activity on the streets on Halloween night, and you don’t want your pet to get hurt by it.

– Anxiety: Some pets, especially cats, prefer the quiet life inside a peaceful house to the rambunctious activity on the block during a holiday. With so many people running around, your pet may become skittish if they join you for Halloween.

Black Cats

Blacks cats have long been associated with witches at Halloween. Sadly, some people have taken to harming any black cat that they find out on Halloween. If you have a black cat, keep it safe by keeping it inside for the entire holiday. It’s better to keep your cat safe than be sorry at a bad outcome.

Food Safety

Keeping pets safe on Halloween doesn’t stop when the trick or treating does. Candy can be harmful for pets. Chocolate is a common treat in Halloween goody bags, but dogs can get sick or even die if they eat chocolate in large quantities. Cats can choke on hard candies as well. Never feed a pet Halloween candy, and make sure your kids keep their Halloween candy well out of reach of your pets.

Costume Safety

If you are planning to dress your dog or cat up for Halloween, make sure you provide them with a suitable costume. Face masks and full head coverings are fine for older children, but they should be avoided for your pets, since they don’t realize what is happening and may perceive the mask as a threat.

The best kind of costumes for pets are simple designs that are lightweight and simply drape over your pet’s body, with a fastener underneath to attach the ends of the costume together. A hat-type covering that goes on top of your pet’s head may be appropriate, though many pets dislike them.