3 Ways to Make Halloween Safer for Pets
on October 30, 2015
Posted in Cats
Halloween is a fun time for many people, but it isn’t always fun, or even safe, for pets. Every year, pets become lost around Halloween. They may run away because they are frightened by all of the noise, commotion, and people wearing strange costumes. Sometimes they escape because doors are being opened more than usual, and people are distracted. Many pets are also sickened around Halloween by the traditional foods and candies that are everywhere surrounding the holiday.
Fortunately, with some knowledge of the ways that pets can be injured or lost during Halloween, many can be avoided. Follow these three steps to help ensure your pet’s safety during Halloween.
Secure and Identify Your Pet
Leading up to trick-or-treat day, make sure your pet is properly identified in case the worst should happen and he escapes.
- If your pet is not already microchipped, make an appointment with your veterinarian to have one implanted. Microchips are tiny devices that, when activated by a scanner, show the operator a unique identification code. That code can be reported to the microchip company and your contact information will be provided so you can be reunited with your pet. If your dog or cat already has a microchip, check that your contact information is up-to-date with the company.
- Make sure that your pet is wearing a collar and ID tags that show your current information. If your pet should become scared and bolt during the Halloween festivities, these simple identification techniques will greatly increase the chances that he’ll be returned to you safely.
- Take a picture of your pet so you’ll have a recent one just in case he does escape and you need to make posters or post on social media.
- Keep your pet in a secure area when trick-or-treaters are coming to your door. If your pet is crate-trained, that is the ideal place to keep him during the Halloween hub-bub (carriers work great for cats). Otherwise, confine him to a small room with everything he needs to be comfortable: a bed, food, water, and a litter box for your cat.
- If you’re having a Halloween party, consider putting a sign on the door of your pet’s “safe room” so people don’t open it, accidentally releasing him. If this happens, he may be scared by the party commotion and hide or attempt to find a way to escape outside.
Don’t Share Your Halloween Treats with Your Pet
Everyone loves a treat, and pets are no exception. It can be tempting to want to share your Halloween bounty with your pets, but refrain from doing so for a few reasons.
- The sugar and fat contents are too high for dogs and cats and can result in vomiting, diarrhea, or a more serious pancreatitis issue. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can be life-threatening.
- Chocolate is toxic to pets. Even a small amount can cause gastrointestinal upsets. Larger amounts can cause true toxicity and may affect the heart or nervous system.
- Some candy contains xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Eating just a small amount of it can result in a dangerously low blood sugar level, and higher doses can cause liver failure. Xylitol is present in an array of human sugarless products including candies and gums, especially varieties available at natural food and health stores.
- Ingesting wrappers and foils containing candy is dangerous for pets; it can result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstructions or choking.
Make sure your kids know the rules against sharing their candy with pets, too. Having a designated spot such as a high cupboard in which to secure the bags out of reach of your pets is a great idea.
Don’t Dress Your Pet in a Costume
Sharing Halloween with pets may include putting them in costumes. Some pets tolerate this pretty well, especially those that are used to wearing sweaters and boots routinely at other times of the year. However, many pets become afraid and stressed when you put costumes, hats, and other clothing on them. Some costumes can even be dangerous for pets. Strings, ribbons, and buttons can be dangerous if your pet ingests them or if they become entangled around your pet’s feet and legs. Although it is tempting to dress your dog or cat up for photos, don’t push it if he acts afraid or timid when you put something on him. Instead, use a festive collar or bandana.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan