How To Keep Your Dog Safe At Halloween

Make Halloween A Treat Not Trick For Your Dog

The UK's largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, is calling for the owners of Britain's 9 million dogs to keep their dogs safe this Halloween by following a few simple steps.

Halloween poses a number of health and welfare risks to dogs, from eating foods that can be toxic to man's best friend, such as chocolate and some sweets, to being scared by trick or treaters and children in costumes.

Taking a few simple precautions can ensure that Halloween is a happy and healthy time for dogs:

  • Keep chocolate out of reach of dogs.  Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs.  Eating chocolate can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but is a stimulant and so can cause your dog to become excitable, as well as develop muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life threatening problems with their heart.
  • Hide the sweets.  If dogs get hold of a large quantity of sweets, such as those being stored for trick or treaters, they can develop an inflammation of the pancreas due to a sizeable ingestion of sugar.  Sugar free sweets can contain ingredients such as Xylitol which can be poisonous to dogs, so it is important to keep these out of reach of your dog too.
  • Be careful of lit pumpkins.  Many people enjoy putting candles inside carved pumpkins, and dogs may inadvertently cause a fire or burn themselves if they knock it over with an overzealous nose or wagging tail.  Never leave your dog unattended with a lit candle, even when it is inside a pumpkin.
  • Beware of trick or treaters.  Take extra care to ensure your dog is kept calm and happy.  At Halloween it is not uncommon for strangers to knock at the door more frequently than usual, and in costume, so be aware that this can be stressful for the dog and ensure that he is kept in a quiet and safe place.  For advice on how to keep your dog safe in unfamiliar situations, seek advice from a Kennel Club Accredited Instructor (KCAI) who is an expert in dog behaviour and training.  Visit
  • Be aware of choke hazards.  At Halloween there are often more objects around that could obstruct a dog's airway if swallowed, such as sweet wrappers, small parts of costumes or decorations and hard sweets, which could require surgical intervention. Signs of an obstruction could include your dog going off his food, vomiting, lethargy and finding it difficult to defecate or not defecating at all.
  • Have the number of your dog's vet to hand.  If your dog has eaten chocolate, lots of sweets or items which may obstruct its airway, contact your vet immediately for advice. They will need to know what was eaten, when and how much.  If your dog eats something he shouldn't, do not attempt to make him sick unless your vet advises this, as this could cause further problems.
  • Consider walking your dog at a different time.  If your dog is usually walked in the early evening, consider changing the time of the walk on Halloween to make it a bit earlier or a bit later to avoid the rush of trick or treaters, who may scare your dog or cause unnecessary stress.  Also be aware that fireworks are available before Halloween and loud bangs and sudden bright lights may spook your dog.
  • Be aware of children.  Your dog is likely to come into contact with lots of children - probably more than usual - on Halloween so it is important that you are aware of your dog's reaction to children and can prepare accordingly.  Equally it is important to be prepared for children wanting to touch your dog, which can cause extra stress, particularly if the children are in costume and excitable. Visit to find out more about keeping children safe around dogs.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said:  "Halloween can be lots of fun for humans but can be frightening for dogs or even fatal if the proper precautions are not taken.  Actions as simple as keeping sweets and chocolate out of your pet's reach could be lifesaving and will ensure that Halloween doesn't turn into a nightmare for you or your dog.

"There are lots of added stresses for dogs on Halloween, with so many people dressed up in costume and various noises that your dog may not be used to.  Dogs are a part of the family, with around nine million in the UK, and as such are likely to be very much included in Halloween celebrations, so it is important that dog owners do their best to keep their pets healthy, happy and safe and can use the Kennel Club's advice to help ensure this."

Visit for more information on how to keep your dog safe at Halloween.  Use the hashtags #DogsAtHalloween and #AllHallowsDogs on social media to encourage others to make Halloween a treat not a trick for dogs.

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