What’s cuter than best pet pals gathering in costumes to party? Nothing, that’s what! Halloween is upon us, and naturally, we want our fur babies to enjoy this fun time of year as much as everyone else does. Taking your dog (let alone, your cat) trick-or-treating is fraught with challenges, but throwing a Halloween pet party is a doable way to celebrate the season. We went to Tampa-based pet living expert and blogger Kristen Levine for her top advice on throwing a Halloween party for pets. “First and foremost, keep pet safety and comfort in mind,” she says. “With a few precautions, both pets and their people can have a spooktacular time at the party!”
Your Halloween Pet Party Checklist:
- Pick out a treat-worthy pet costume.
- Make and send unique invitations.
- Pet proof the party area.
- Decorate with your pet guests in mind.
- Plan fun pet games to play.
- Send off your four-legged friends with festive favors.
1. Carefully choose a costume.
We know seeing your sweetie dolled up as a butterfly or Batman is kind of the point. Understand, though, that dressing up isn’t quite as exciting for some dogs as it is for their parents. “If your pet shows any sign of distress when trying on a Halloween dog costume, don’t make him wear it,” urges Levine. In that case, your dog (or cat!) will be much better off donning a simple bandana, sparkly collar or other single accessory, like the Rubie’s Costume Company Rainbow Hat, California Costume’s Lion Mane or Rubie’s Costume Company Princess Leia Buns. Trust us: they’ll be just as adorable whether or not they’re wearing a full-on costume!
If you’re one of the lucky ones whose pooch likes getting all decked out and being the center of attention, make sure he is able to move, see and hear normally. “Even the sweetest of pets can get snappy when he can’t see,” reminds Levine.
2. Dash off the invites.
Traditional invites are always in style, but Levine offers two ideas if you’re short on time. Shoot a quick video of your pupper trying on his costume, with your narration sharing details of the upcoming pooch party. Send that video via text or social media to those on the guest list. Another option is to create a Facebook event using a cute photo of your pet and a pumpkin, carved or not, with all the celebration specifics. Or jump into the shot yourself, with the help of Poochie Selfie.
3. Use caution with candy.
If you want to offer the pet parents in attendance a few seasonal sweet treats, place the bowls well out of reach of the furry guests. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs. Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in some candy and gum, can be deadly if ingested by a dog. Foil and plastic candy wrappers can also be hazardous if swallowed. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call your veterinarian, or if it’s outside office hours, call the 24/7 ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (a fee may apply).
4. Decorate right.
If you have limited space, you’ll want to allow room for the cat and dog party games, so keep decorations to a minimum. Big house? Typical Halloween party paper goods and decorations are fine to use for a Halloween pet party, with a few caveats. Cords need to be run behind furniture or in such a way that the pets can’t get to them. Dried, decorative corn, as well as stained or painted small gourds, can look enticing to dogs, who may chew on them. Spooky candles are surely festive for a nighttime soiree, but never put them on a tablecloth, which can be pulled down by an excited dog.
5. Get ready for cat and dog games.
“A costume contest is a must,” says Levine. Categories can include cutest, most creative, scariest, and for those not wearing full on pet costumes, an acknowledgement of “coolest understated Halloween style.” Have the contestants strut their stuff to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. (There is no reason the humans can’t join in the fun, too, if they’ve come in costume).
Another pet game that Levine has seen work well: Best Behaved Dog Challenge. “Why not reward the best behaved dogs? Take turns timing the length each canine sits or stays obediently,” she explains. Just make sure it’s the pet parent giving the command.
What’s a contest without prizes? A plush Frisco Plush Squeaking Halloween Bear Toy is sure to delight the winners. Large, pumpkin-flavor, healthy treats, like Wet Noses Pumpkin Big Bone Dog Treat or Greenies Pumpkin Spice Dental Dog Treats, can be ideal handouts too.
If the weather cooperates, consider a neighborhood costume parade, even if it’s just around the block. It’ll give everyone a chance to show off, and the pets an opportunity to burn off a little energy.
With feline guests, a go-to party activity could be an obstacle course for them to romp on, using tunnels, cat trees and pillows, with toys strategically placed along the way.
6. Find fur-tastic favors.
Whether or not they snagged a prize during any of the pet games, each guest should go home from the Halloween pet party with a goody bag. “I love any of those treat toys that engage pets mentally and reward them with a healthy treat,” says Levine. Such a “smart toy,” like OurPets Atomic Treat Ball, sent home with a little Halloween baggie filled with small, pumpkin-flavor pet treats, such as Whole Life Living Treats, can be the perfect favor. Just make sure that none of the pets attending have any food restrictions before buying one type of treat to fill everyone’s baggies.