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Halloween pet safety: Dog in costume

Halloween pet etiquette: Trick-or-treating with your dog

Halloween is a favorite family holiday: Everyone gets to dress up, eat candy, and have a little ghoulish fun. If you’re thinking of including your dog in the spooky festivities this year, there’s trick-or-treat etiquette you should keep in mind.

Plan your Route

Your trick-or-treat route should be long enough for everyone to have fun, but short enough that you don’t exhaust your kids or your dog. Maybe consider a “figure-8” with home at the center. That way, if your dog gets tired after the first loop, you can drop her off at home before heading out on the second.

Encounters with Kids and Other Pets

It’s important to know your dog’s personality and degree of socialization—both with children and with other animals. A dog with a history of aggression toward kids or other pets should not be taken trick-or-treating. You are the best judge of your dog’s demeanor, so make smart choices.

Even friendly outgoing dogs can become scared or anxious, especially if you are knocking on strangers’ doors. Your hosts might have a dog that’s not thrilled to find strange animal—even one dressed as Buzz Lightyear—on his porch. So be respectful, and if necessary, wait with your pet at the curb, while your kids collect their sweets.

Bring the Necessities

Even when dressed like a pirate, your dog is still a dog. So, whether you’re planning an extended evening of door knocking or just hitting a few houses in the neighborhood, be sure to bring water for your pooch (a bottle with a sport top is usually sufficient). Candy should not be given to dogs and chocolate can be dangerous for them, so bring along some dog treats for your pup to have a yummy snack. Since any walk means, “time to do your business,” for dogs, don’t forget a cleanup bag.

Costume Safety

When choosing a Halloween costume for your pet, be sure to get the right size. A too-small costume can be uncomfortable and unsafe. Your pooch should be able to breathe and see easily, he should have full mobility of all his limbs, and the costume should be able to accommodate potty breaks. Also, it should be reflective to be visible to cars. You should keep your pet leashed at all times, but if she should slip her collar, you want drivers to be able to see her.

Treat Safety

There are some definite Halloween Don’ts for Dogs: They cannot safely metabolize chocolate or licorice; and other candies, while not necessarily toxic, aren’t healthy for them either. Be sure your pet doesn’t have access to the sweets you plan to hand out or the ones you bring home. A DIY dog treat or chew toy should resolve any FOMO (feelings of missing out) that your pup might experience.

We hope these tips will help you, your family, and your dog have a safe, fun, and happy Halloween!


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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