Halloween may be different this year, but safety and compassion should be the hallmark of every holiday every year. Listen to medical experts about coronavirus safeguards and follow these additional tips for a happy Halloween for everyone, humans and non-humans.
If you’re eating or distributing candy, make it vegan candy. Candy made from milk, eggs, gelatin (made from animal skin, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and bones), confectioner’s glaze (made from the resinous excretions of certain insects), or carmine color (red pigment made from crushed cochineal insects) contribute to animal suffering. I like Twizzlers but click here for a list of some other lip-smacking cruelty-free candy.
Keep candy out of reach of animals, and make sure that kids know not to share their goodies with pets or other animals. All candy (and wrappers!) can cause animals to become sick, and chocolate, which contains an ingredient that is poisonous to dogs, can kill. A simple cat or dog treat will make your animal companion’s’ Halloween great without making them sick.
I’ve seldom seen an animal happy in a Halloween costume, but if (and only if) yours is, make sure those costumes are pet friendly. Costumes that restrict vision or movement are no good. Costumes that are kept in place with tight rubber bands can cut off circulation. Costumes made of flammable materials are likewise out of the question. Pets can be curious about flickering candles and lit jack-o-lanterns – don’t make Halloween a life-threatening proposition for them. Keep those things away from animals, costumed or not.
Keep other decorations away, too. The ink that is used in some brightly colored decorations, such as orange streamers and paper pumpkins, is toxic to animals, and swallowed balloons or party favors can block an animal’s digestive tract.
Keep your pets inside. For cats—especially black cats, who have been unfairly associated with “evil forces”—the days leading up to Halloween can be dark indeed as sick people go on the prowl for cats to torture and often kill. In fact, many animal shelters refuse to adopt out black cats during the entire month of October. It’s a sad commentary on humans that it has to be this way.
Dogs should be kept indoors too. Halloween can be a terrifying experience for dogs, who often run from the noise and the strangely dressed people and can become lost.
When Halloween is over and those pumpkins on your doorstep are looking tired and sad, don’t throw them in the garbage. If there is a wooded or wild area nearby where animals live, bring your pumpkins there. Not only will hungry animals eat them, but smaller animals like chipmunks and squirrels will hollow them out and move in. Old pumpkins and gourds make warm and comfortable homes for the cold months ahead. Note: If you have deer in your area, cut hollowed-out pumpkins up before leaving them in the woods so that feasting deer don’t get their heads caught in them.
Happy Halloween, and peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!