Two Risks of Halloween for Your Dog
on October 27, 2015
Posted in Dogs
Halloween brings parties, trick-or-treating, dressing up, and general frivolity. Many people enjoy this holiday as a chance to get together, wear fun costumes, and have some social fun. It’s important to remember, though, that there are special risks that Halloween can bring to our cats and dogs. If you know how your pet’s safety may be threatened around this time, you can do what is necessary to avoid the risks and keep her safe.
1. Candy Is Dangerous for Pets
Many people know that chocolate is toxic to pets. It contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can be harmful to dogs and cats, resulting in agitation, increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. The darker the chocolate, the greater the risk.
But did you know that other candy is dangerous to pets, as well? Most treats contains high amounts of sugar and sometimes fat. These substances can cause gastrointestinal disturbances in pets that result in vomiting and diarrhea. At higher amounts or in animals that are more sensitive, candy can also cause pancreatitis. This is a dangerous inflammation of the pancreas gland that results in abdominal pain, serious vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration, and sometimes the failure of other organs.
Some common sugar-free treats contain the sweetener, xylitol, especially the sweets purchased at natural grocery and health stores. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, resulting in a dangerously low blood sugar quickly after it is ingested. This hypoglycemia can cause seizures and even death. At higher doses, xylitol leads to liver failure that is often irreversible in dogs. Xylitol is also toxic to cats.
Not only is candy itself dangerous for pets, but the packaging it comes in can cause problems, too. Foils, plastics, ribbons, and ties are all potentially hazardous if your dog or cat swallows them. These items can cause choking if they get caught in your pet’s throat. They can also get caught in the stomach or small intestine which may necessitate surgery to remove these objects.
2. Your Pet May Escape During Halloween
Halloween, with its noise, commotion, and costumed people, can be a frightening time for dogs and cats. Don’t underestimate just how terrifying all of this can be for your pet. She may react anxiously by attempting to bolt and escape.
If you are having a Halloween party, consider keeping your pet confined during the event. A crate or carrier is the most secure, but a small room is a great option as well. Make sure that the area is comfortable and contains everything that your pet might need, such as food, water, toys, a bed, and a litter box for cats. Place a sign on the door alerting people not to enter because your pet is hanging out inside.
Confining your dog or cat is also a good idea if you will be welcoming trick-or-treaters to your home. The constant bell-ringing, opening and closing of the door, and scary, costumed people appearing on the other side could be very unsettling for an animal. On the other hand, all the commotion outside might tempt a fun-loving pet to join in, resulting in her scooting out the door while you’re occupied with giving out candy.
Make sure your pet is sporting a collar and ID tags that have your up-to-date contact information on them. Sometimes, even with our best efforts, things occur that are beyond our control, and your pet may run away. Having the proper identification on her will help ensure that your pet can be returned to you if she does escape this Halloween or anytime.
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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