4 Precautions For Keeping Your Pets Safe On Halloween
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on October 25, 2017
Posted in Cat
The average American household on Halloween is loaded with health risks for pets. Everywhere you turn are potentially hazardous objects, unfamiliar people, and other changes to their surroundings pets might find alarming. It’s perfectly feasible for pet parents to enjoy a stress-free Halloween; they just have to eliminate these health risks entirely or simply put them far away from curious dogs or cats.
Here are 4 precautions to take in order to keep your pet safe on Halloween:
1. Keep Treats Out Of Reach
This one is a no-brainer, since all forms of chocolate (especially baked or dark) can induce vomiting, seizures, or even death. But chocolate isn’t the only Halloween-themed food item capable of causing harm. Candies that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous in addition to their wrappers, which can trigger life-threatening bowel obstructions if ingested.
Small amounts of pumpkin might be safe for some pets but taking a bite out of an uncooked, possibly moldy pumpkin on display will most likely spell trouble. Be careful where you place the candy you distribute to trick-or-treaters and clear your front steps of loose wrappers.
2. Make Sure Your Pet Is Full
Your pet is less likely to go searching for scraps and snacks if he or she has a full stomach. So, before the festivities begin, make sure your pet has eaten well throughout the day, particularly at dinner time. Keeping some doggie treats or extra-moist cat treats on hand will also prevent your pet from feeling left out when everyone else is eating. Popular suggestions include unbuttered and unsalted popcorn, fruit, carrots, or dog biscuits with a little peanut butter on top.
3. Be Ready For Visitors
The constant ring of the doorbell, presence of costumed kids and loud noises outside can make your pet anxious. It might be best to keep your pet in a quiet, closed room in the back of the house during peak hours for trick-or-treaters to prevent anxiety responses or a panicked run out the open door. The precaution you take is based on your pet’s usual reaction to visitors. For example, if your pet has a habit of rushing the door or barking whenever someone comes in the house, you’re in for a stressful night unless you prepare accordingly.
4. Hide Electric Decorations
Both dogs and cats have been known to chew on wires or cords, so it’s imperative that all decorative lights should be high up or tucked behind furniture where they cannot be seen. The same goes for battery-powered decorations, which can cause chemical burns or gastrointestinal blockage if chewed open. Cats are also naturally attracted to brightly-colored glow sticks. These are not toxic but the liquid they secrete tastes terrible, and may therefore induce vomiting.
5. Try On Costumes Ahead Of Time
While it’s common sense not to put your pet in any costume that is remotely restrictive, some pet parents tend to wait until Halloween night to put their pets in their costumes for the first time. This could cause a negative reaction, even if the costume fits them just fine. You should always go slowly when introducing your pet to something new, so you should probably give your pet plenty of time to adjust to the new clothes, allowing him or her to repeatedly try it on for short periods before the big night.
If you can make this Halloween a happy and healthy one for your pet, there’s a good chance you won’t have any anxiety or foreign ingestion to worry about next year as well. Your pet will thank you for paying so much attention to these safety precautions and most likely show you the same respect when the next holiday rolls around!
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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