Halloween Safety Tips for Pets*

Halloween is a fun time for kids and many adults, but can be a frightening and stressful time for your pets. As a pet owner, you know your pet best, but here are some points to consider for your pet’s safety.

  • Continual doorbell ringing and people at the door (in costume, no less!) can be stressful for a pet. Some pets may experience stress-related diarrhea or potentially injure themselves if crated or otherwise contained. Keep your pet in a quiet and safe place on Halloween.
  • Strangers in costume – some animals may become unexpectedly aggressive or fearful, even normally friendly pets.
  • Candles and Jack-O’-Lanterns within a pet’s range are a fire hazard. Wagging tails and frightened cats zooming through the house can easily tip over a candle or carved pumpkin, causing burns or a fire.
  • Keep your pets indoors on Halloween night, especially black cats. Animals are at risk for cruel treatment by some Halloween pranksters. Many adoption agencies and humane societies will not allow adoption of black cats around Halloween for this reason.
  • Candy – For many people, Halloween = candy. Many pets have a sweet tooth. Please warn children not to share their goodies with the family pet.
  • [We start talking to our dog in the afternoon, letting her know lots of people will be coming to the door. Her job is (1) to let us handle the people; and (2) to show everyone how she can sit quietly. For this she gets a treat, as well!]

Candy Concerns

  • Candies, gums, mints, baked goods and chocolate containing the “sugar free” sweetenerxylitol are especially poisonous, causing rapid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure in dogs and possibly other species (ferrets).
  • Chocolate is toxic to pets. Granted, a 50 pound dog would have to eat about 50 ounces of milk chocolate (but only 5 ounces of baking chocolate) for a toxic dose, but much smaller amounts can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Signs of chocolate toxicity include tremors, nervousness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures and death. If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, consult your veterinarian.
  • Other candies, such as lollipops and those with plastic components, pose a danger if ingested. Lollipop sticks and plastic parts can cause intestinal obstruction and potentially rupture the intestines, which is a life-threatening emergency.

Look at the variety of pet costumes! How can I resist?

  • Halloween costumes for pets have been around for many years. This year, however, I am finding them everywhere; even in the grocery store! While the costumes can be entertaining for the human counterparts, caution is advised before dressing your pet up.
  • While viewed as fun and adorable for some pet owners, caution is advised when putting a costume on a pet. A pet in costume should NEVER be left alone and unsupervised.
  • Tight elastics on the costumes can get lost in the pet’s hair, potentially causing owners to overlook them, leading to swelling and pain in the area of the elastic.
  • Some pets, if left alone in costume, may chew it up and ingest it. This could cause intestinal obstruction if more than small shreds of material are consumed.
  • If the costumed pet escapes or is frightened away, the costume could entangle the pet on trees, fences, etc.

Pet clothing for safety and fun

Consider reflective collars and gear for pets (and people) – a great safety item for Halloween and all year-round. [A good question is should your pet wear clothes at Halloween or any other time – service animal vests excepted.]

Play it safe and enjoy Halloween

With a little caution and some common sense, Halloween can be a fun time for kids and pets alike. If any acts of animal cruelty are seen or suspected, please call your local shelter or animal authorities. Happy and safe Halloween to everyone.

By Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM, About.com Guide
*reprinted from: http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/winterinfo/a/halloweensafety.htm

[comments in brackets added by Nancy Schluntz]

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"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." - George Eliot
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi
"There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings – we all feel pain, we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and live freely, and we all share this planet together." - attributed to Gandhi
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