Halloween is a fun time of year, and you may want to include your pet in the festivities. Your pet, however, may have a completely different opinion of this strange, noisy holiday. Don’t let your pet’s safety get lost in the chaos—know the dangers lurking around your home and neighborhood so you can enjoy a fun, safe Halloween with your furry friend.
Your Halloween candy dish or your child’s trick-or-treat collection can include a number of off-limit items that your pet will gladly devour, such as:
- Chocolate — Most pet owners know that chocolate is toxic, but it is still one of the most common toxins ingested by dogs, who obviously can’t resist its enticing smell. The toxins found in chocolate, theobromine and caffeine, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, and cardiac arrhythmias.
- Xylitol — Many sugar-free sweets, including candy, gum, and peanut butter, contain this deadly artificial sweetener. Xylitol in only small amounts can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar levels, or liver failure.
- Raisins — Health-conscious neighbors may hand out miniature boxes of raisins, which can be highly toxic to pets. Ingestion of a small amount of raisins, as well as grapes and currants, can cause acute kidney failure. Also, watch out for chocolate-covered raisins, which pack a double dose of toxins.
Remember that overindulging in sweets that do not contain toxic ingredients can also cause gastrointestinal distress or pancreatitis in your pet. In addition, indiscriminate pets may swallow wrappers, foil, or sticks that can cause a life-threatening intestinal obstruction.
Glow-in-the-dark accessories are filled with a liquid that contains dibutyl phthalate, or DBT, which is nontoxic, but can still irritate your pet’s mouth, skin, and eyes if she chews on and punctures a plastic item. DBT’s noxious, bitter taste often causes excessive drooling, gagging, retching, pawing at the mouth, or vomiting.
Not all pets love visitors, especially if they arrive on your doorstep as kids in scary costumes, repeatedly ringing the doorbell. Beggar’s Night may make your pet anxious, and she may resort to biting if she feels threatened. Frightened pets may also dart through an open door and become lost, or worse, hit by a car. If the barrage of trick-or-treaters is likely to stress your pet, keep her in a back room or in her crate in a quiet area of the house. Treat her to a romp in the park early in the day to run off her nervous energy, and leave her with a few favorite toys and treats while you hand out candy. You may also consider sitting on your front porch to distribute treats so candy-seeking kids don’t ring the doorbell.
You may be excited to dress up your pet for Halloween, but in the quest to find the perfect costume, don’t forget that her comfort and safety should come first. Keep these tips in mind:
- Ensure your pet’s costume is not too tight. Your hand should slide easily between the fabric and her chest so her breathing is not restricted.
- Avoid costumes that are overly loose or have pieces hanging to the ground that could trip your pet. Take particular care with older pets who may have difficulty walking.
- If your pet has a reputation for eating things she shouldn’t, skip costumes that have accessories, such as buttons, bows, or ribbons, that she can chew off and ingest.
- Never put a mask over your pet’s face that restricts her vision or has a chin strap that compresses her airway. If your pet cannot see well, she could trip and fall or run out into traffic.
Candles and jack-o’-lanterns can be knocked over by rambunctious pets, causing severe burns or a house fire. Keep lit candles out of your pet’s reach, or use battery-operated flickering lights for that spooky effect. Electric decorations can also be dangerous if your pet chews on a cord, so keep all electric cords tucked safely away to avoid electrocution or severe burns to your pet’s mouth and face.
Pumpkins, corn stalks, and colorful corn cobs may dress up your porch, but they can become moldy during damp October nights. Molds can produce dangerous mycotoxins that may cause vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, muscle tremors, or seizures if your pet decides to eat these decaying decorations.
Mischief night mayhem
In some regions of the country, young adults celebrate October 30, or Mischief Night, pulling silly pranks on neighbors. Halloween night can also be prime time for harmless antics. Each year, however, stories circulate about darker tricks that include animal abuse, torture, and sometimes even death. Black cats are often the victims of these sick stunts, but any pet left outside could be at risk. Keep your pet indoors over the holiday, and closely supervise her bathroom breaks, even if she is in your fenced yard.
If you have questions about ensuring your pet’s safety this Halloween, contact us.