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With all the gory costumes, haunted houses and late-night horror movies, Halloween is by far the scariest time of year. But for your pets, it’s more than scary. It’s downright dangerous…
The costumes, decorations, and treats that make Halloween so spooky and exciting for people can make Halloween hazardous for dogs and cats.
But don’t worry. It is possible to get into the Halloween spirit without putting your pets in danger. Just follow these six tips to keep your pets safe from the most common Halloween hazards:
Choose costumes carefully.
Dressing your pet up for Halloween can be entertaining. After all, how cute would your cat or dog look dressed as a pumpkin, bumblebee or hot dog? But for your pet, costumes can be stressful or even dangerous. Certain costumes, for example, interfere with breathing or have tight bands that can cut off circulation (1). Costumes that are too loose can slip off, causing your pet to become tangled and fall, and some costumes include accessories that are choking hazards (2).
Now, just because certain costumes are dangerous doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams of ever putting a costume on your pet. But only do it if wearing a costume doesn’t bother your pet. And make sure the costume is safe by verifying that your pet can breathe, see and hear and that the costume is not too loose, too tight or riddled with choking hazards (3).
Watch out for decoration dangers.
Some of the most popular Halloween decorations can be dangerous to pets. For example, any decoration that includes an open flame (like a candle-lit jack-o-lantern) should be displayed somewhere your pets can’t knock it over or burn themselves (3). Pets may be tempted to play with, chew on and even eat decorations like streamers, fake cobwebs, and plastic spiders too, so keep those out of reach (4). You should also keep glow sticks and glow necklaces away from your pets, so they don’t confuse them for chew toys. And just like around Christmas-time, keep any decoration-related electrical wires tucked away to prevent tripping and chewing (3).
Keep pets out of the candy.
On Halloween, your house is filled with special treats that are just as tempting to your pets as they are to you. Unfortunately, if your pets get their paws on to these treats, they could end up in the hospital. In fact, pets are 32 percent more likely to end up with food poisoning during the week of Halloween than any other time of year (5). That’s why you’ll want to keep any candy in your household stored safely away where even the most persistent pets can’t get to it. But accidents do happen…
If your pet does get into treats or candy, your first step is to figure out what he or she ingested. The most dangerous Halloween treats for pets are the kind that contains chocolate or xylitol (3). So if he or she has eaten either of these, you’ll want to call your vet immediately to see if you should bring your pet in.
If your pet gets his or her paws on candy that doesn’t contain either of these dangerous ingredients, he or she probably won’t need medical treatment, but may deal with digestive discomfort for a day or so. If you’re concerned by your pet’s behavior or your pet’s digestive issues don’t clear up quickly, call your vet just to be safe.
Although Halloween is the time of year pets are most likely to end up with an upset tummy, your pet may deal with more run-of-the-mill digestive discomfort other times of year too. If that’s the case, consider trying PetAlive’s RuniPoo Relief™ for Pet Diarrhea Symptoms or Digestive Support™ for Cat & Dog Digestive Health, which promote healthy digestion and bowel function.
Don’t leave pets outside unattended.
Halloween is a popular time for pranks and mischief, and it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to keep your pets safe from these Halloween hijinks. Cats are especially prone to teasing and taunting on Halloween. In fact, some animal shelters refuse to adopt out black cats in the weeks leading up to Halloween to prevent them from being mistreated (6). If you let your cats outside, make sure to keep them inside on Halloween. For dogs, Halloween can be overly stimulating whether they’re subjected to Halloween hijinks or not. The steady stream of strangers visiting your house alone can be enough to stress them out and lead to nonstop barking (1). So keep them inside where they can enjoy the holiday safely and calmly. Your neighbors will thank you too!
Give pets their own safe space.
Even the friendliest of pets can get overwhelmed by so many strangers visiting their house on Halloween. That’s why it’s a good idea to set aside a safe space for your pets. Keep your pets in a room or area of your house that’s quiet, secure and away from the hullaballoo (4). You can make the space comfortable for them by providing beds, blankets, fresh water and toys to play with. Putting your pets in a safe space will also reduce the risk of them escaping since the door will be opening and closing so many times throughout the night.
Plan ahead for your daily walk.
If your dogs are anything like mine, going for a walk is the absolute BEST part of their day. So even on Halloween, you don’t want to deny them the excitement and exercise they crave so badly…especially if they’re going to be cooped up indoors for most of the night. But Halloween walks can be stressful for you and your dog if they’re not planned correctly. Taking your dog out when everyone is trick-or-treating can make your dog rambunctious or frightened, especially if your dog is freaked out by people dressed in costumes (1). Take your dog for an early morning walk instead of an afternoon or evening one. Or, at the very least, wait until later in the evening after the trick-or-treating has ended. Also, while you’re on your Halloween walk (and in the days after), watch out for stray pieces of candy that have been dropped throughout your neighborhood so you can prevent your pet from snatching up something dangerous.
If you follow these six tips, you and your pet are sure to have a safe, stress-free Halloween. After all, Halloween should be a fun time of year when pet parents can bond with their furry family members. So buy your pet that oh-so-adorable pumpkin costume (and maybe a few Halloween treats of his or her own), and enjoy this spooky holiday safely. Happy Halloween!
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- “Dog Tip: Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners.” Partnership for Animal Welfare. N.D. Web 9 Oct. 2017. < http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_HalloweenSafetyTipsforPetOwners.php;.
- “Top 5 Halloween Safety Tips for Vets and Pets.” ASPCApro. N.D. Web 9 Oct. 2017. <http://www.aspcapro.org/resource/top-5-halloween-safety-tips-vets-and-pets;.
- “Halloween Safety Tips.” ASPCA. N.D. Web 9 Oct. 2017. <https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/halloween-safety-tips;.
- “Halloween Pet Safety.” The American Animal Hospital Association. N.D. Web 9 Oct. 2017. <https://www.aaha.org/pet_owner/pet_health_library/general_health_care/halloween_pet_safety.aspx;.
- “What to do When the Dog Eats Halloween Candy.” Modern Dog Magazine. N.D. Web 9 Oct. 2017. <http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/what-do-when-dog-eats-halloween-candy/87218;.
- Lewis, Danny. “If You Want to Adopt a Black Cat, You May Have to Wait Until Halloween Is Over.” Smithsonian Magazine. 24 Oct. 2016. Web 9 Oct. 2017. <https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/if-you-want-adopt-black-cat-you-may-have-wait-until-halloween-is-over-180960868/;.