While we love our pets all year ‘round, Halloween can be a particular scary time for pets and pet owners alike. Festive decorations, trick-or-treat hijinks, costumes, strangers, and Halloween candy can all potentially threaten your pet’s safety.
October is also National Animal Safety & Protection Month, which is dedicated to promoting safety and caring for both domestic and wild animals. So, in honor of both Halloween and National Animal Safety & Protection Month, we’ve put together some great tips to make Halloween celebrations safer and less stressful for you and your furry friends.
Keep the Candy Bowl Out of Reach
According to PetMD, “All forms of chocolate—especially baking or dark chocolate—can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats.” To avoid issues, be sure to keep bowls of candy for trick-or-treaters safely out of reach to avoid the possibility of ingestion.
The reason chocolate is so dangerous is because it contains methylxanthines, which are toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause diarrhea or vomiting. Larger amounts can lead to seizures, irregular heart function, and even death. You should also keep candies that contain sugar substitutes such as xylitol away from your pets.
If you suspect your dog or cat has consumed candy or treats that are unsafe, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible or contact the ASPCA Poison Control Center by calling (888)-426-4435.
Don't Leave Pets Outside on Halloween Night
Pets left outdoors on Halloween night, even in their own yards, can be vulnerable to teasing, taunting, or even injury by neighborhood children or other pranksters. Some pets could also be stolen. Black cats are especially susceptible to cruel pranks since they are often associated with bad luck, witches, and Halloween in general.
If your pet must go outside on Halloween, be sure they are supervised at all times. We recommend taking dogs for their daily walks long before trick-or-treat night festivities officially begin.
Plan a Safe Space for Your Pet during Celebrations
Costume parties or trick-or-treat rituals can be very unsettling for some pets. The constant parade of strangers in weird outfits along with extra noise and unfamiliar smells can cause some dogs to bark excessively, or become aggressive. Other pets may take the opportunity to escape through a frequently-opened door whether they are scared or simply curious.
For these reasons, we recommend keeping your pet as far away from the action as possible, in a quiet room where they can relax by themselves. This is especially helpful for fearful animals or those who become overwhelmed around too many people.
Caution with Pet Costumes
While some pets enjoy donning costumes along with their human counterparts, many find the experience stressful. Unless you know your pet is likely to enjoy the experience, resist the temptation to dress them up for Halloween.
If you do choose to dress your pet in a costume, be sure that the costume does not limit their ability to move freely or inhibit their sight, hearing, or ability to breathe. Check the costume for any chewable pieces that could present as a choking hazard. You’ll also want to make sure the costume is not too big so it doesn’t get twisted or caught on other objects.
Also, be sure to give your pet enough time to get used to the costume before Halloween. We recommend trying on each piece of the outfit, one at a time, and giving your pet a few days to get used to wearing it. Make the experience a positive one with plenty of healthy treats and praise.
Invest in Microchipping
While collars can fall off, a microchip will always be available to help identify your pet in case they lose their way. Most veterinary offices now have microchip readers to identify lost pets. Microchipping is a simple and affordable procedure performed by your veterinarian.
If your pet already has a microchip installed, be sure to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip service to avoid delays in locating you if your pet is found away from home.
While Halloween can be a particularly harrowing time for our pets, it doesn’t have to be. Planning ahead for Halloween celebrations and taking care when it comes to Halloween treats, costumes, and decorations will go a long way to creating a happy and healthy Halloween for you and your beloved pet. Happy Halloween from all of us at CVCA, the leading choice for veterinary cardiology.