Pumpkins are on doorsteps. Candy is on shelves. Costumes are in store windows. Yes, it must be getting close to Halloween! Parents and children are looking forward to a fun night of Trick or Treating, but this holiday can be particularly spooky for the furry members of your family.
Let’s review a few Halloween safety tips for your pet.
Don’t Trick or Treat with your pet.
Trick or Treating is not for pets. “No tricks, no treats” is the best Halloween mantra for your dog or cat. With all the excess foot traffic, it’s best to leave your pet at home as you walk the neighborhood with your child. Even dogs familiar with their exercise route are thrown off course by the extra people on the path and may become agitated. Plus scary looking humans that approach for a friendly pat on the head may frighten your dog. Even the best mannered canines will bite when threatened, and nothing ruins Halloween like an unscheduled trip to the emergency room.
Why dogs hate Halloween
Dogs and cats aren’t always fans of the neighborhood candy hunt. Doorbells constantly ring and strangers in weird costumes invade their domain. Too many sights! Too many smells! Too many sounds!
Provide your pet with a calm, secure area to stay during Trick or Treat time.
Let your pet rest in a room away from the frenzy and turn on the TV, radio, or white noise machine to dull the sound of the doorbell and the happy screams of young visitors as they see that you have the “really good candy” to give out.
Make sure to secure any potential escape routes. Frightened dogs or cats may scurry through an open door while you dole out candy. Others become very territorial as strangers approach their home turf. Keep pets in another room or safely on leash as you greet Halloween visitors. Besides, they may appreciate the solitude. After 39 rings, the doorbell can be pretty aggravating and you don’t want to call out the posse to find your missing dog or cat on Halloween night.
Keep Halloween candy and treats away from your pet.
As the candy accumulates in the treat bag, resist the temptation to share it with your pet. Chocolate in all forms and candy or gum artificially sweetened with xylitol can be dangerous for dogs and cats. Plus, dogs may gobble up candy… wrappers and all. Cellophane or foil wrappers are trouble when swallowed. Even natural treats like caramel apples should be off limits for dogs and cats. Intestinal upsets, blockages, and pancreatitis can result from eating items not normally on your pet’s menu.
Decorate for Halloween with pet safety in mind.
Fall decorations set the Halloween mood, but be sure that your pet does not nibble on the Jack-o-lantern. While non-toxic, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can upset a pet’s stomach. Also, keep decorative corn out of reach. These fall colored corn cobs are pretty to look at, but can obstruct the intestinal tract. Our surgeon removed one from a Boxer’s intestines a couple of years ago.
Decorative holiday lights may brighten your porch, but they look like fun toys to your pets. Keep both lights and power cords out of their reach. Also, be sure to place those fake spider webs where pets can’t get them. The yarn can really make for a GI emergency if swallowed. Remember that candles inside carved pumpkins are fire hazards if toppled by a curious pet. This pet trick will affect the entire family!
Dress your pet in comfortable, safe Halloween costumes.
Lots of pet owners dress up their dogs and cats for Halloween. We love having them visit our animal hospital in costume. If you are inclined to dress up Fido or Fluffy, please make sure their attire is comfortable. A tight costume that constricts movement or respiration is a health hazard. Don’t let costume hats or masks impede vision or hearing. Your dog or cat needs all of his senses intact. Also, find costumes without small pieces that can be chewed off and swallowed. Red buttons on Little Red Riding Hood’s cape are cute until they are lodged in your dog’s stomach.
Halloween can be lots of fun. So go ahead. Buy the candy. Plan the costume, Map out your Trick or Treat route. With a little planning, Halloween can be both fun and safe for you and your pet.
We’d love to see your pet’s Halloween costume. Send us a photo on Facebook!