While Halloween is often a festive and fun time for children, more often than not, it’s a nightmare for our four-legged companions. Dogs and cats can become easily startled, scared and ridden by anxiety, caused by incessant ringing of the doorbell by trick-or-treaters (and even fireworks set off on the streets). The following practical safety precautions will potentially keep your pets safe this upcoming October 31st.
1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets!
- Chocolate (especially dark and baking) and xylitol (a sweetener found in many candies), can be extremely toxic to pets. Xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar in pets, and even cause seizures.
- Lollipops and their sticks can be choking hazards and cause painful obstructions, and may require surgery to remove.
- Those pretty and shiny candy wrappers not only can lead to choking and obstruction in your pets, but to birds as well. Please, don’t leave any candy in the reach of your pet, and be mindful not to discard of wrappers on the street. Birds mistake it for food, and often choke on them.
- Try keeping pet-safe treats handy to satisfy your pet’s curiosity.
2. Avoid losing your pet forever! Keep your pets confined and away from the front door
- As your door is sure to be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, and strangers coming up to the door dressed unusually (and yelling loudly), your furry companions are sure to get startled and/or scared. Not to mention pets who are territorial and may growl or lunge at trick-or-treaters.
- Avoid having to search for your lost loved pet at night (and possibly never finding them again), by confining them to a ventilated room where they can’t get out of. If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to get your pet microchipped. A fairly painless and quick procedure that can be safely done by a vet in the comfort of your own home. Always keep an ID tag and collar on your pet. For South East Florida residents, I highly recommend Dr. Cecilia Magalhaes of Vet Home Express. She has been treating my pets in my home for years. My dogs and I love her.
- If you plan on having your pet escort you and your kids while trick-or-treating, please keep your pet on a leash, as noises or unusual costumes may startle your pet, and if not kept on a leash, your pet may run for dear life.
3. Dangerous pet costumes and Halloween decorations
- My suggestion for a safe costume would be a loosely tied bandana (there are so many cute ones on the market, you’re sure to find a festive one); however, if you must dress up your pet please keep it simple and hazard free. Pets often become entangled in elaborate, tight-fitting costumes with strings, ties, belts and so on. If your pet is not able to mobilize properly, injury is sure to follow, and even worse—strangulation.
- Never leave a pet unattended while wearing a costume. Your pet may try to chew it off, and ingest pieces of it, which may lead to life-threatening obstruction.
- Unless your pet absolutely loves to dress up (and most really don’t!), please be mindful that the costume does not constrict your dog’s ability to bark, or your cat’s ability to meow.
- Keep lit pumpkins away from your pets. Their tail might brush up against it, and get a major burn.
- Keep Halloween decoration wires hidden from your pets. Your pet’s curiosity may lead him to chew the wire, and possibly get electrocuted.