Safe Halloween: Trick or treating with your dog

Trick or treating as a family is a once-a-year opportunity to create wonderful memories. Considering your dog is part of the family, you may want to let them join in on the fun. But before you dress them up and head out, take a moment to assess if your dog will enjoy the experience and how you can care for them throughout the evening for a safe Halloween.

Is Halloween right for your dog?

If your dog becomes anxious or aggressive around loud noises, children and strangers, or has difficulty obeying basic commands, it may be safer to keep them indoors on Halloween night. Move them to a quiet, closed room for the evening, with some water and a chewable toy or treat, and leave the radio or TV on to help offset sounds from the street. If your pet is more easy-going and can handle the excitement, then go for it!

Choose a suitable dog Halloween costume

A proper dog Halloween costume should be lightweight and allow the animal to move, see, breathe, hear and eliminate normally. Avoid costumes that feature buttons, dangling bits and small, sparkly objects that your dog may be tempted to chew on. Get your pet used to wearing their costume by having a few rehearsal sessions before the big night. If they appear uncomfortable, consider something simpler instead, like a bright orange bandana or a spooky collar. 

Keep your dog on a leash

Even if your dog obeys you perfectly, the added excitement and traffic on Halloween night present serious risks and your pet should be kept on a short, sturdy leash. Stick to the streets and sidewalks, and while children go trick or treat at each home, wait with your dog by the curb. Homeowners may not feel comfortable having your pet step on their walkways or climb up the stairs to their porch.

Have some backup and a Plan B

Multiple children and a dog can be a lot to handle for one person. Make sure to bring along a partner or older sibling to share the responsibility. This way, if your dog grows tired or doesn’t seem to be enjoying the walk, one of you can bring them back home safely without ending the evening for everyone.

Bring your dog walk essentials

If you plan on trick or treating for a while, bring along everything you would on a long walk with your dog, including poop bags, treats, a water bottle and a bowl. Try going up and down nearby streets instead of walking very far in a straight line: this way, if your dog gets tired, you can return home more quickly.

Be careful around candy

Halloween candy can be highly toxic to dogs, including chocolate and gum containing xylitol. Candy wrappers also present a choking hazard. Feed your dog before heading out so they won’t feel as hungry, toss them treats throughout the evening to reward good behaviour and keep them content, and be prepared to react quickly if you see them chewing on something. Don’t forget when you get home to ensure the Halloween loot is placed out of the dog’s reach, as they may be able to find it in closets, backpacks and on tables.