Halloween is a fun, spooky holiday for all, but it can be downright frightening when an accident causes harm to your pet. Broadway Barks trick-or-treated all over the World Wide Web and compiled a list of Halloween safety tips to keep your pets happy and healthy during All Hallows’ Eve!
I.D. Your Pumpkin or Ghost
Halloween often brings the sounds of knocking and doorbell-ringing, guests coming into your home, opening the door for trick-or-treaters, and other activities that can frighten or overwhelm your pet and provide opportunities for them to dash out an open door. If a pet accidentally gets out of the house, having identification on their collar and a microchip with current contact information are the best ways to ensure you’ll get your pet back safely. Avoid the possibility of your pet getting loose in the first place by securing him or her in a separate room away from the front door while guests are coming and going or during peak hours of trick-or-treating.
This writer admits to giving in to the temptation to dress her dogs for Halloween. I just can’t help myself! However, you should carefully consider whether or not to put a costume on your pet. Safety must be your first concern. Never have the costume on when you are not there to monitor your pet. Be sure that the costume does not limit your pet’s movement, sight, breathing, or ability to bark or meow. Dogs and cats generally don’t tolerate having their eyes or ears covered or obscured in any way. Also ensure that the costume doesn’t present a chewing or choking hazard. You don’t want things dangling that your pet will be tempted to chew off. And remember that a costume that is too big can present a risk to your pet if part of the costume gets caught on something and injures or chokes your pet. Try your pet’s costume on them a few times before the big Halloween “reveal” so that he or she has time to get used to it. Check your pet for signs of distress. Indications that your pet hates the costume and feels stressed include folded-down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, a tucked tail, and hunching over. If you see these signs, take off the costume and try a simple festive bandana or collar. If all else fails, a Halloween “birthday suit” is always a crowd pleaser (for your pet J).
Halloween decorations can also present a risk to your pet. Remember to keep wires and candles out of reach. Use battery-operated candles for jack-o-lanterns, or ensure that your pet can’t knock them over and start a fire. Cats and kittens are at special risk from decorations because they can climb and jump up where dogs may not be able to reach. Check decorations for toxicity, too. Pumpkins, decorative corn, and hay may be considered non-toxic but might cause stomach upset if your pet chews on and swallows them. Always keep at least one room free of changes and decorations so your pet can feel safe in a familiar place. Use this room as a spot where they can go to be secure and relaxed while you entertain or serve trick-or-treaters.
Let Your Pets Celebrate at Home
If you plan to attend a block party or go out with the kids for trick-or-treating, consider leaving your pets at home. Dogs can get overexcited by Halloween festivities, and costumes can be frightening for them. A dog bite or lost dog is sure to put an end to the fun of Halloween. Also, make sure to secure your pets inside before night falls. Dogs and cats are always safer inside, but on Halloween it is especially important to keep pets in the house.
Secure the Treats
Halloween candy is a common threat to cats and dogs. Many Halloween goodies, including chocolate and sugar-free candies, are toxic to pets. Additionally, drinking glasses or plates of food left by houseguests may contain alcohol or savory items that can be harmful if ingested by your pet. Keep leftover treats and your children’s Halloween loot stored in airtight containers in a high cabinet, preferably with a childproof latch, if you have cats or cat-like dogs who can get up on countertops and open cabinet doors. And remember to teach children why it is not safe to share their favorite treats with their pet. During the festivities, the best preventative course of action is to keep your pet in a safe room where he or she can stay secure, comfy, and away from dangerous temptations. If the unthinkable happens and you believe your pet has consumed something toxic, call your veterinarian immediately, and consider consulting the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. The control center is open 24 hours a day, but there is a fee of $65 charged per case.
Keeping your pet’s safety at the top of your Halloween “to-do” list will make it a fun holiday for you and your furry ghoul or goblin.
Share your pet’s Halloween look with us on Facebook. And remember to make safety your number-one priority!
Contributed by Charlene Sloan