Annette Lanker, Holy Cow Critters

As humans, we like Halloween to be a little scary, right? Well, Halloween can be downright frightening for our pets! It’s a very long day for our animals: Before the sun even sets, the littlest of the ghouls and goblins are knocking at our doors, gleefully yelling, “Trick or treat!” But let’s re-examine the hazards this holiday presents our dogs and cats.

Check out Q13 Fox/JoeTV’s coverage of this article here!


Annette Lanker of Holy Cow Critters preparing for her pet safety Halloween segment with Q13’s Kaci Aitchison and Travis Mayfield

Let’s start with the decorations. Halloween decorations growl, groan, and screech. They flash, shake, and drop from above. They randomly flap, crawl, and zombie walk for maximum “fright” effect. Then we carve aromatic gourds into Jack-O-Lanterns and light them with hazardous candles. How is a cat supposed to resist that enticing flicker? So, it’s extra important to ensure they’re out of reach of curious paws – or better yet, use battery-powered “candles” for extra safety.

Costumes are the main component of Halloween. From feature-distorting makeup to baggy, flapping disguises, there’s probably nothing more frightening for our pets. Allowing your pet to watch your transformation and give them enough time to adjust to your changing appearance could alleviate some of their fear. You could also consider getting into costume elsewhere to completely alleviate the problem.


And last, but definitely not least, we have the tradition of welcoming perfect strangers to knock on doors and yell, “Trick or Treat!” at the top of their lungs when we answer. Our dogs are conditioned to protect us and guard their domain, yet we welcome and reward these intruders. This has to be confusing and scary for them. Each time we open the door, we run the risk of our pets escaping out into the night full of ghouls, goblins, and other little monsters. Imagine what it would be like to be lost on such a night: Lots of strangers running from house to house, flapping and yelling, would be extremely frightening. And trying to hide in bushes filled with electronic demons jumping out to scare gleeful trick-or-treaters would scare any pet.

Prepare for emergencies by ensuring that your pets are wearing updated identification tags with multiple contact numbers. Make sure you have recent photos of you and your pets for proof of ownership in case they become lost. But the best option for all of our pets is to set up a calm, secure location in the house where you can turn on some soothing music or the television and they can rest quietly and securely away from the commotion at the front door.

Learn more about Holy Cow Critters, including how you can learn pet CPR and first aid, by visiting their website here, emailing Annette at, or calling (253) 208-4625.