Considering all we’ve experienced in 2020, what sounds more appealing: (a) putting on a mask; (b) knocking on strangers’ doors; or (c) eating even more junk food? I vote (d) none of the above, but from the perch of someone who works for the animals, honestly, Halloween has never been a favorite. I plan to hide in a back room with the best dog on the planet, Lola (my column, my rules), tuned into a 1950s-era cheesy-scary movie. If you’re planning something more social, like treat-or-treating or a party, here’s some advice.

Pets thrive when the world is predictable. Holidays, especially Halloween, shake up that routine, and therein lays the potential problem. Pets do not get the idea of costumes as light-hearted reference to pop culture. Instead, for the most part, the unfamiliar can be pretty scary. The range of how animals react to scary starts with peeing on the floor and ends with defensively running, either from or directly at what scares them. Kids bitten on this holiday are going to have sour memories. Dogs smacked for how they greeted that kid, cats who dash terrified under the couch, suffer as the result of something they can’t be expected to understand. Suggestions? If kids are trick-or-treating and if you are opening the door, separate your pets from all the risks that invites; same advice goes if your social bubble-mates are coming over dressed as pirates or Dr. Fauci.

While you might enjoy seeing your dachshund in a hotdog costume or your cat strapped into a witch’s pointed cap, don’t assume pets are equally inclined to cherish these moments. 139,276 results pop up in an Amazon “pet costume” search, many hysterically funny. Nothing wrong with a little dress-up but that’s something you and your pet needed to work on weeks ago, introducing the concept slowly, extra cautious of doodads and frills which can be ingested or catch around a leg. Further, that haul of sweets contains chocolate (potentially dangerous), raisins (even a few can lead to kidney failure), plus the foil wrappers which can be fatal if swallowed by our overexcited animals.

Best advice? It is 2020. Stay home with your best friend and watch I Was A Teenage Werewolf. You won’t regret it. Ok, add wine.