October marks the beginning of fall. This means cool nights, colder temperatures, and who can forget, Halloween! It is a time for our kids to become two legged monsters, ghouls, superheroes, and princesses, to enjoy friends, trick-or-treating and lots of candy. But what about our four legged kids? Loud noises, poisonous foods, and hazardous decorations are just a few reasons to keep an eye on your pet over the holiday. To insure everyone has a “fiendishly” good time here are suggestions for keeping your pet safe on Halloween.
Sweets and treats are for the kids, not your pets. This is one of the most common traumatic accidents that can happen to your pet on Halloween. Chocolate can pose a serious threat to your pet’s health. Chocolate contains a naturally occurring stimulant called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. Unlike people, dogs and cats can’t metabolize this compound, so its stimulant effects are amplified.
Pets who consume chocolate can experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures and even death. If your pet has consumed a large amount of chocolate or any other sweet, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you bake with artificial sweetners, keep those treats out of the paws of your furry friends as well.
Keep your dog’s or cat’s treats (biscuits or the like) to what they are accustomed to which will avoid stomach upset.
If your pumpkins have candles flickering in them, keep your pets away. Curious noses and paws can get burned and sudden movements can tip the pumpkin over. The same goes for any lighting you may hang for the holiday.
Is your pet an escape artist? Watch them! With trick-or-treaters coming and going all night you will probably be opening your front door many times. The constant screaming and/or costumes could possibly induce stress for your pet. Constantly check for your pet each time you open and close your door and be sure that your pet has identification tags should they take off after Dracula.
Additionally, know your pet’s tolerance for strangers at the door. Even the most familiar faces will be strange to your pet with masks and makeup. Isolate your pet in a closed room if you know it will be a disturbance to your visitors. After all, they don’t understand what is going on. All of these people are coming knocking on the door that may not normally do so.
Despite the fact that the dressing up and all antics involved in this celebration of All Hollows’ Eve is understood by humans, your dogs and cats can’t possibly understand the excitement. Be sure and keep them isolated if they are not party animals, are territorial or not very friendly towards ghosts and princesses and other little people coming to your door.
Be considerate of your pet if you dress them up in costumes. According to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners spend over $200 million each season on holiday costumes for pets, dressing up almost 11.5% of their furry friends. Costumes that limit mobility or visibility for an animal will certainly not make them happy. Depending on your dog’s breed and size, delicate costumes with beads and decorations should be closely monitored to make sure pets do not ingest things that they shouldn’t.
Costumes are cute, but be careful! Let’s face it, everyone loves a cute pet costume; but does your pet? Make sure the costume does not limit their movement, comfort, hearing, sight or ability to breathe, bark or drink. Introduce them to the costume at home before Halloween so you can observe their behavior, ensure they are comfortable and be sure the costume does not restrict their movement.
For those pet owners living in warmer climates, the costume should not overheat your dog. Remember a simple Halloween bandana might be a better idea than dressing your pet from head to tail.
In any case, don’t remove your pet’s collar with its ID tag. Make sure your contact information is current for your pet’s microchip just in case a scary moment allows for a dash into the dark.
Trick or Treating
If your pet accompanies you and your friends or children, have an adult hold the leash. Children as so distracted during this ritual and should not be given the responsibility of holding the family dog during the trek for treats. Keep your dog on the street while your tricksters go to the door to get their treats. This will help to avoid any chance meetings with another pet residing in the treater’s house.
Use a non-retractable, traditional leash which will provide more control over your dog’s behavior during this exciting time.
Here are some other tips to help you:
- Confine your pet. Especially if it is not accustomed to small children or it will make a dash for the open door, crate it or designate a special room for it during trick or treat time.
- No doorbells. Put a sign on your door not to use the doorbell; to knock instead. Better yet, sit outside if weather permits and greet your ghooly visitors before they get to your door.
- Watch out for candles. Inquisitive pups and kitties can nose around your carved pumpkin and stick their nose into hot candle wax through those wide eyes you carved.
- Be careful with costumes. Unless your pet is accustomed to dressing up, watch them if they are dressed up. Costumes can get hot and restrictive. Do not use any rubber bands to hold material down. They can quickly work their way into your pet’s skin and cause infections. Your pet can also ingest them which would most likely cause some stomach upset.
- No candy, please. If you must give your pet a treat on this festive occasion, make it a little dog biscuit. Chocolate and sugar can make them sick, and who wants to clean up the mess?
- Identify them. Make sure your pet’s collar and tag always stays on this night. Having them microchipped and registering your information is the best thing to ensure you will be found if your pet gets lost.
Being responsible with your furry children doesn’t mean they can’t have fun! A great idea is to keep your pets treats handy for when they want to indulge as well. Keeping your pet safe during Halloween is always important, but especially when ghouls are about in the night!