Toil and trouble: Keeping pets safe on Halloween

dog-in-costume

On Halloween, the regular rules go out the window. There’s lots of candy, being out after dark, maybe a scary movie. It’s a good time for the whole family, and that includes your pets – as long as you take steps to keep them safe.

Keep trick-or-treating fun for your pets
Trick-or-treating can be stressful for your pets in a few ways. They may have anxiety meeting strangers, or just hearing the doorbell. They may meet other pets while going door-to-door, or encounter small children who pull on tails.

You don’t have to skip out on handing out candy or going house to house, though. If your pets are scared of strangers or the doorbell, simply keep them in a part of the house that’s quiet and removed from the front door. Make sure they have their kennel, favorite blankets and toys, and maybe a special treat to keep them busy. You can even hand out treats from the garage or the driveway to make sure your doorbell stays silent.

If you want to venture out and are concerned about trick-or-treaters ringing the bell all night, turn off your porch light and hang a (respectful) sign to discourage anyone from trying your door for candy. Or, if you don’t want to be “the house without candy,” leave a bowl on the porch or end of the driveway.

Have friendly pets that like to participate in Halloween festivities? Put a pet gate in your front door to create a barrier between pets and children, and to prevent your dog or cat from zooming out the door. When going door-to-door with your dog, keep them leashed and use a secure harness.

Get your pets microchipped before Halloween, and put identification tags on their collars – if they do manage to escape, these give them the best chance of returning home.

Treats for you, tricks for your pets
While you may know not to give your dog chocolate, and to call Sun Dog Cat Moon Veterinary Clinic or the nearest emergency hospital if you catch your pup with a pile of Hershey wrappers, you might not be aware that other candies contain toxins for pets, too.

Plenty of candies, particularly sugar-free candies, contain xylitol, which is also toxic to animals. And when your kids promptly toss the raisins out of their pumpkin buckets, be sure they don’t end up in reach of your pets, either – raisins are a no-no, too.

Keep all the candy out of reach of your pets, whether that means in a cabinet, on top of a fridge, in a pantry, or on top of the table. Store candy in a container with a lid so if a crafty cat does find it on top of a cabinet, it’s still impossible to get into it.

Don’t panic if there is a candy security breach. Call us or the nearest emergency hospital and tell us what your pet ate and how much. Even if you think your pet hasn’t ingested enough to be a real danger, call right away. It’s better to call and not need us than to need us and not call.

Scary decorations
Real candles in your jack-o’-lanterns look pretty, but the flickering light will attract dogs and cats, especially if the smell of fresh pumpkin leads them over for a sniff. If you plan to have your pets and your pumpkins in the same vicinity, a battery-operated candle is the way to go.

Additionally, plenty of decorations in your and your neighbors’ yards are plugged in or battery-operated, and you don’t want a ruined blow-up ghost, or worse, an electrocuted dog.

Speaking of blow-up decorations, plenty of Halloween decorations are big and make loud, scary sounds. If your dog spooks easily, reconsider whether it’s a good idea to take her with you door-to-door.

Claws-trophobic costumes
Whether your pet wears a costume without complaint or shakes it off at the first opportunity, keep a constant eye on them. You don’t want your dog walking around with a paw stuck in a neck hole, or your cat ingesting fabric after chewing himself loose. Stay away from dyes and hair sprays meant for human use, and from small accessories that could pose choking hazards.

There’s no reason your fur babies can’t get into the spooky spirit, as long as you take some precautions to keep them safe and happy.