The days after the 4th of July and Halloween are the two busiest days for animal shelters nationwide. While this holiday may be frightfully fun for humans, it can be downright scary for companion animals who have no idea what’s going on. Why are strangers showing up on their doorstep, and why is their human making them wear an embarrassing and uncomfortable nooch costume? Not to mention, if a kid can figure out how to reach into a candy bowl, there’s no question a dog can sneak a piece as well—which could result in an emergency vet visit, even if it is vegan candy. Follow these four basic tips to ensure everyone has a good time on Halloween. 

1. Choose your vegan-themed costume wisely 
Dogs are unbearably adorbs just as they are, but there’s something about our human mind that makes us melt when Fido sports an adorably plush pumpkin costume (complete with a hat). While we may go to great lengths and endure some discomfort in the name of securing “Best Costume,” the truth is, your dog doesn’t care and would rather be comfortable—especially on this hectic night. This doesn’t mean they can’t dress up; you just need to be cognizant of their comfort. If your dog regularly wears a sweater or body harness, use this as a canvas to create your costume. Adhere felt cut-outs of salad ingredients, and viola—your dog is a salad. If you do choose to purchase a vegan hot dog or other costume, bring your dog with you to try it on, as restrictive costumes can cause unnecessary stress. Any strap or fabric placed around the neck should not be tight (if you can’t easily slip two fingers underneath it, then the strap needs to be loosened). Also avoid costumes with loose strings or small objects, as they could present a choking hazard or get caught on something. Once the costume is on, check in with your dog. If they are engaging in normal behavior (eating, playing, being social) then they should be fine; however, if you notice excessive licking, avoidance of food, or changes in their normal temperament, it’s time to take it off. The “gram” isn’t worth it. 

2. Be a street smart vegan
If your pooch is tagging along for trick-or-treating, treat them like a toddler—be hypervigilant and don’t let them out of your sight. Tonight is not a night for the retractable leash; stick to the heavy-duty, standard six-foot lead, and make sure their collar or harness is snug, as they could get spooked by the assortment of monsters and princesses running past. Just the very scene of others eating non-vegan candy could send them into a tailspin! Finally, invest in some dog-friendly reflective wear. The holiday often brings in extra traffic to your neighborhood, and smaller dogs and those with dark coats are harder to spot by drivers—or sprinting children hyped-up on sugar. Check your local pet store for reflective collars, leashes, and harnesses so your pup stands out. 

3. Reduce stress for all your vegan guests
If you’re staying home to host your annual vegan Hocus Pocus bash or to hand out vegan candy to trick-or-treaters, there are a few things you can do to reduce your dog’s stress levels. Before the bewitching hour begins and you start whipping up your signature vegan buffalo cauliflower “brains” for the party, treat your dog to a long walk, run, or hike to release some energy. When the strangers start knocking for your full-sized Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups and never ending bowl of caramel Cocomels, keep your dog in a secured room with a fresh bowl of water so there’s no chance of them bolting or getting too upset by the bizarre and sometimes scary costumes. Check in on them from time to time and give them a reassuring belly rub (doggie-approved CBD oil made specifically for canines could help with anxiety, too). 

4. Stock up on dog-friendly vegan treats
Treats aren’t just for humans on Halloween. If you’re noshing on some vegan candy, your dog deserves the canine equivalent. Keep in mind, the goodies we love such as chocolate (even the non-dairy kind) and raisins can be poisonous to dogs, so no sharing. Give them their own stash. Look for vegan brands such as v-dog, Wild Earth, and Wholesome Pride for plant-based pooch treats. When the night is over, the two of you can sit on the couch, watch Psycho for the fifth time this season, and dig in to the night’s bounty.  

Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.

Photo credit: v-dog