Portland, OR. Fright Night might be fun for humans, but it can be scary for pets. Excited trick-or-treaters, tempting candy and spooky costumes can all pose threats to furry friends resulting in serious health issues. Doctors at DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital offer helpful advice for keeping pets safe during Halloween celebrations.

“Problems can arise for pets when their environments and routines change suddenly,” said Dr. Ladan Mohammad-Zadeh, DoveLewis critical care specialist. “Around Halloween, we’ve seen everything from gastrointestinal issues caused by pets ingesting dangerous items, injuries from costumes, and lost pets who escaped during trick-or-treating festivities.”

Animals in costume should be supervised at all times. Some pets may chew pieces of their outfit and ingest them, causing intestinal obstruction. Also, if a costumed pet escapes or is frightened away, the outfit could get caught on trees, fences or bushes, and pets can get hurt or stuck in the process. Keep an eye on your pet and snap a few photos like the ones below, then remove.

Pet owners can also avoid a trip to the emergency room by following these helpful tips:

  • Monitor candy and treats at all times, and keep them out of reach. Chocolate is highly toxic to pets, and other candy can cause significant gastrointestinal upset. Additionally, lollipop sticks, plastic parts and wrappers can cause intestinal obstruction and potentially rupture a pet’s intestines. Be sure to remind children that exposing pets to these treats can be dangerous. 
  • Keep pets secured indoors and away from trick-or-treaters. Visitors can cause pets to feel that their territory is being invaded. Even typically calm dogs may get spooked by loud, shrill voices and strange costumes. Stress can result in unsafe reactions – like growling, biting or running away – or even serious health issues, such as vomiting and gastrointestinal problems. Secure pets in a secluded area of the house to help them remain calm and prevent them from darting outdoors. Do not take dogs trick-or-treating, and make sure they are always wearing proper identification and have an updated microchip. (Learn how to update your microchip information.) 
  • When leaving the house, don’t leave candles lit – even if they’re inside pumpkins.
    When the house is occupied and candles are lit, be sure they are clearly out of reach and monitor pets at all times.
  • Keep decorative lights out of reach, especially from curious puppies and kittens.
    One chewing session can be dangerous and even deadly.

If pets are injured or become ill due to any of these holiday hazards, owners should seek medical treatment for them immediately. 

About DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital

DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Oregon, is the only nonprofit, 24-hour emergency and intensive care unit in the region. With 45 years of service to the community, DoveLewis has treated more than 500,000 animals. DoveLewis also has seven donor-supported community programs that serve animals in need and the animal-loving community. For more information, please visit dovelewis.org.