6 Ways to keep your pet safe + 11 ways to celebrate safely with your pet on Halloween

With HOWL-o-ween just around the corner, today I thought I'd share 10 tips to keep your fur-kids safe as well as 11 fun ways to celebrate safely with your fur-kid this HOWL-o-ween!

10 Ways to keep your fur-kids safe on Howl-oween

1. We all love dressing our fur-kids up in costumes but there's a few tips, tricks, do's, and don'ts that go along with dressing them up. If they're not comfortable being in a costume, why not opt for a fun t-shirt instead or a special howl-oween collar? And don't forget if your pet does enjoy costumes, as some do, be sure to have your pet try on the costume before the big night. Remember when choosing a costume for your dog or cat, pick an outfit that fits comfortably, doesn’t restrict movement, and avoids small edible pieces. Pay close attention to your pet. If your dog or cat doesn’t mind the costume, it’s a great way to celebrate Halloween.

2. Decorating our homes for Howl-oween is a fun and a favorite way of many to spend the holiday, but keep in mind that decorations and pets sometimes don't get along so well, so be sure to choose your decorations and where you place them carefully. Additionally, keep in mind that some of them might also, unintentionally, spook Fido too, so be sure to watch their reactions when you're putting up your decorations to make sure they're not frightened instead of your trick or treaters! After all, their home is their safe place, and displaying oddly shaped objects, and hearing scary noises unexpectedly can be very stressful for them. Don't forget too that the same can be said for taking them out for trick or treating – the neighbor’s houses may be decorated in a scary way that makes your pet uncomfortable, so unless your dog is very confident and comfortable it's best to leave them at home instead of going out with the kids.

3. We love handing out candy to the kids, in fact, it's my mum's FAVORITE part of Howl-oween. Luckily for us, Ozzy also loves greeting all the friendly kids even when they're dressed up she greets them all with her tiny tail wagging. However, not all pets see this as an agreeable part of Howl-oween. Understand that having the doorbell ring regularly or hearing repeated knocking might be stressful for them. For Halloween night it might be best to have them tucked away in the living room or bedroom with a favorite toy. If your dog is upset by constant doorbell ringing or knocking put on a radio or tv for them to drown out the noise, and if possible sit ready at the front door, so there is no need for kids to knock. With that in mind, always make sure your pet is wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet. If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that he or she will be returned. Collars and tags are ideal if a Good Samaritan is able to collect your wayward pet, but microchips offer permanent identification should the collar or tag fall off. Just make sure the information is up-to-date. Use Halloween as a yearly reminder to double-check your address and phone number on tags and with the company that supports pet microchips.

4. If your feline companion is an indoor/outdoor cat, be sure to keep your indoor cat inside on Halloween night, and if possible for around a week before for their safety - especially if they're a black cat. It's very sad to think that not all people love pets, but on Halloween night, in particular, you don’t know what kind of people might be out there looking to harm a pet (mainly black cats). On Howl-oween, no matter how much your fur-kids normally enjoy lounging outdoors in your yard, don't leave your pets out in the yard unattended, especially on Halloween. Vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution. While they may not be happy about it, staying indoors is certainly better than outdoors on Halloween, but your door will be constantly opening and closing, and strangers will be on your doorstep dressed in unusual costumes. This, of course, can be scary for our furry friends, which can result in escape attempts or unexpected aggression. By putting your dog or cat in a secure crate or room away from the front door it will reduce stress and prevent them from darting outside into the night…a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

5. Keep all pets away from chocolate treats and lit jack-o-lanterns Whether it’s the candy that you’ve bought for kids visiting your house or the snacks, your kids bring home, always keep them up high off the floor and away from curious pets. Chocolate is very dangerous to dogs and cats, hard candies can pose a choking hazard, and even candy wrappers can block up in the intestines. Many sugar-free gum and candies contain xylitol which is also dangerous for pets to ingest. Also (particularly for cats) be aware of any access they can have to your lit jack-o-lantern. A flickering candle inside is very enticing for them to play with and is incredibly dangerous.

6. Keep wires and decorations out of reach. Curious kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or sung by candle flame and many popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively nontoxic but can produce stomach discomfort in pets who nibble on them. Glow sticks are also another common item on Howl-oween that pets tend to get into, so be sure to keep them well away from pets. While glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween night, they can add some unwanted drama to the holiday if a pet chews one open. Pets who get into a glow stick may drool, paw at their mouth, become agitated, and sometimes even vomit.

13 ways to safely celebrate Howl-oween with your fur-kids

1. Make a DIY Spooky Toy From bones to pumpkins, and mummies to witches, there are plenty of Halloween-themed pet toys. While you can always buy one from a store, you can also make some simple Halloween toys for your pet with items like old t-shirts, felt, old gloves, or socks. Braid and knot together some orange and black fleece strips for your dog, or sew a spooky felt monster for your cat. Even if your pet doesn’t want to wear a costume, they can still tote around a Halloween pet accessory. If you're looking for some fun ideas - check out my Pinterest board with some spooktacular ones here

2. Fido, Pumpkin Hunter Extrodinaire! If your pet doesn’t love costumes, try to visit a dog-friendly pumpkin patch with your pup (or leashed cat). It’s a great way to get outside in the beautiful fall weather and pick the perfect pumpkin. Not all pumpkin patches are dog-friendly, so be sure to call the farm before you go. Bring a leash, clean up after your pet and keep your pup close as you browse.

3. Pumpkin Carver! To take all things pumpkin a step further, you can decorate your pumpkin in honor of your pet! There is plenty of pet pumpkin carving patterns available online, whether you are a novice or professional pumpkin carver.

4. Tricks and treats don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Fall is a great time of year to brush up on your pet’s repertoire and a great time of year to incorporate some new tricks and treats into the mix! There are dozens of Halloween-themed pet treats you can make for your dog or cat, including recipes that can use some of the pumpkin leftovers from carving - be sure to check out some fun Howl-oween Treat Recipes on my Pinterest board here. From fall flavors to adorable cookie cutouts, you can give your pet a special treat for their new tricks.

5. Some pets do enjoy going trick or treating or handing out candy. Be sure if you're fur-kid is tagging along on your family’s trick-or-treat outing or help you give candy to neighborhood trick-or-treaters to keep them close. If your pet plans to tag along, make sure they are well behaved and not easily spooked. Halloween events can be unpredictable with kids in costumes and strange sounds and decorations. If you do go out, make sure you and your pet are visible and that your pet is easily identifiable with collar ID and better still - microchipped or tattooed.

6. Stay home, turn off the lights, make some treats, and watch a scary movie with your fur-kid! For those cats and dogs who prefer to snuggle up and avoid the Halloween festivities, a night in binging Netflix movies is a great option. There’s nothing like the presence of your dog or cat to make you feel safe, even when watching the scariest movie. Pop some popcorn, pick a snuggly spot for your pet, and get scared! If you and your pet want to lay low from the ringing doorbell and costumed kids, consider turning off the porch light and snuggling in for the evening. This year, this will be what we are doing as we don't get trick or treaters in our new home as we're a bit out of the way, much to Ozzy's dismay!

7. Host a dog costume party! Now, if you're doing this in the time of Covid, be sure to wear your masks and keep socially distant, but that doesn't mean you can't have a wee bit of fun. Ring up your closest dog-friends and invite them to a party just for the pups! Make some healthy, dog-safe treats to serve and have a prize for best costume to keep it fun.

8. Find local costume contests or parades that are going on in town. Many local pet stores, rescues, and non-profits will host costume contests both in-person and online so keep an eye out! With Covid, many are opting for an online parade as well - so be sure to watch for online events too! Local parades can be a fun place for your pup to strut his stuff in his dazzling costume!

9. Play in the leaves! Honestly, what good is fall if you aren’t jumping in a pile of leaves? Show your dog what the fun is all about and he’ll be having a blast in no time! Remember the tick treatment first! Ticks love dead leaves.

10. Doggy-bobbing! You’ve all probably heard of apple bobbing, but just in case you haven’t, I’ll fill you in. It’s when there’s a bucket of water filled to the top and apples are placed in the water. The apples will float and the idea is to get them out using only your mouth. It’s slightly harder than it sounds, particularly as many apples are bigger than our mouths! However, there’s no reason why your pooch cannot join in with the fun. Behold… doggy-bobbing. It is up to you whether you still use apples but you could always substitute them for tennis balls or something similar. Just make sure that whatever you use, they will float to the top of the water. Otherwise, it will be pretty difficult for your dog to get them out from the bottom of a bucket full of water! Once you have chosen an appropriate object or food, encourage your dog to try and get them out of the bucket and praise them once they do to let them know they have done well. You can teach this to your dog so that they learn a new trick, or you can simply involve them in your Halloween party games! Providing your pooch is interested in what is in the water, hopefully, they will want to join in with what you’re doing.

11. Obviously, I'm a smidge bias on this one but I LOVE Halloween Tiny Paws Sessions + Celebrations! So why not have a Halloween dress up and photoshoot! Even if it's at home, and granted your furkid loves to play dress up, why not dress up and take a few fun snapshots to commemorate the event! After all, it’s also the perfect opportunity to take some super cute (or spooky) pictures of your dog. And if you do - be SURE to show us on our social pages! I love seeing those spook-tacular costumes!