Pet Safety for Halloween

Halloween is a spooktacular time of year for kids of all ages, but it can be stressful for our furry friends. Below, find five tips to keep your pet safe and comfortable when trick or treaters arrive.

Candy, treats and more

If you own a dog, you are probably already aware that chocolate is a big no-no, especially dark-chocolate and baking cocoa. But did you know that sugar-free candies and gum that contains the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause serious harm to pets? Avoid the emergency vet visit by keeping all candy up high where your pooch can’t reach it. Dogs can be sneaky and incredibly patient when they want something. Remind older kids to keep their candy in a drawer and check younger kids’ rooms to make sure they haven’t accidentally left anything out.

Ding Dong the Dog is Barking

If your dog is one who barks overtime when the doorbell rings, or darts out the door whenever it’s open, it’s best to crate him (or her) or keep him an enclosed room. Leave a radio on with soothing music to keep him company. If that’s not an option (my dog refused to be crated and would scratch any door to pieces), then consider handing out candy for a short period of time and keep your dog on a leash so you can maintain control at all times. I love seeing the little ones in their costumes, so only pass out candy for an hour or so on the early end of the evening when they are out. Then it is porch light out for me.

Party Etiquette

In addition to food, always keep candles and lit jack-o-lanterns out of your dog or cat’s reach. Don’t forget their tails! Labs are notorious for the ability to quickly “sweep” a coffee table clean with their tail action. Even if your pet has approved the guest list, masks and costumes can change how people look and smell, so even familiar people may become frightening, so again, if possible, keep your pet crated or in a quiet room where they feel safe. According to the Humane Society (humanesociety.org), in addition to candy, rubber eyeballs (choking risk), glow sticks and fake blood (possible poisons), fake cobwebs (can choke or entangle pets and wildlife), potpourri (toxic to birds) and strung lights are dangerous to pets.

Dress Up

They may look like as cute as can be, but for some pets, wearing a costume can cause a lot of stress. Be sure to do a trial run with the costume prior to Halloween. The ASPCA (aspca.org) recommends that you don’t put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. If you do dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume doesn’t limit movement, sight, ability to breathe, bark or meow. Remove any pieces that your pet may be able to chew off as they can present a choking hazard. If your pet shows signs of stress, take off the costume. Stress signals include folded down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, a tucked tail and hunching over.

The Day After

Finally, when walking your dog through the neighborhood the days following Halloween, be vigilant about discarded candy and candy wrappers that kids have tossed by the wayside. I can’t count the times I had to pull candy out of my dog’s mouth after she dove for a piece left on the sidewalk.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!

 

Originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Your Town Monthly magazine.

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