By Jenna-Lee Neff

Halloween is just around the corner and families might be tempted to include their four-legged friends in trick or treating but Lost Our Home Pet Rescue is encouraging pet owners to be mindful of safety this season.

“Dogs can become confused and scared by costumes, noises and large crowds,” says Lost Our Home Founder and Executive Director Jodi Polanski. “Recognizing signs of stress is the first step to getting them out of an overwhelming situation and back home where they feel safe.”

Signs of stress in dogs include drooling, pacing or shaking, whining or barking when they normally wouldn’t, changes in the dilation of their eyes or the positioning of their ears, and changes in body posture, including tucking their tails and becoming rigid.

If your pup exhibits signs of stress, remove them from the stressor by going to a quiet place to regroup or return home. A frightened and stressed dog may lash out to protect themselves and their families, or they may try to run away.

Stress is not the only concern for pets during Halloween. Check out these tips on costumes, candy and more:

  • Identification – Make sure your pet has the proper identification attached to their collar. In Maricopa County, this includes their license tag and microchip, which can help them be found easier and returned home if they get away from you in a crowd or bolt in fear (make sure both are up to date with most current address and contact information).
  • Costumes – Some dogs can become stressed before ever leaving home if they are uncomfortable with being confined in a costume. Go without if they are showing signs of stress. If your dog is happy to wear a costume, triple check to make sure it doesn’t have pieces they can chew off and choke on, restrict their movements, cause discomfort, or hinder their ability to breathe.
  • Out and about – Keeping your dog on a leash will help you stay in control of the situation and keep them close. If you’ll be out after the sun sets, consider having your dog in a reflective vest or collar for more visibility.
  • Sweets and treats – Many types of candy and treats are toxic for pets, so make sure they are properly stored out of reach. Chocolate, especially dark and baking chocolate, can be deadly for cats and dogs alike. Another ingredient to look out for is the sugar substitute xylitol, which can cause serious problems in animals. Call your vet immediately if you think your pet has ingested any of these items.

Lost our Home Pet Rescue is a no kill shelter in the Valley. To learn more, visit