Most of us want to involve our pets in all of the action and excitement of our lives; but it’s not always so great for our pets. Consider Halloween. Consider it from a pet’s perspective, to be specific: the doorbell ringing repeatedly; a parade of yelling sugar-fueled “creatures” behind the door; toxic chocolate to find; decorations to get tangled up in; and how about the dreaded pet costume? (OK, I understand that not all pets are shamed by costumes, but I just keep thinking of my daughters’ dog Winky and his look of abject misery when the doggie witch costume comes out of the closet.)
It’s important to keep your pets safe this Halloween by thinking around the holiday excitement, and being aware of the little catastrophes lurking in the night. Here’s a round-up of tips from animal protection groups compiled by consumeraffairs.org:
- Don’t give Halloween candy to dogs and cats. Candy can be harmful to pets and chocolate is toxic to dogs, cats, and ferrets. Candies that have the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs–even small amounts can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and lead to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. Symptoms of chocolate ingestion can include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and increased thirst, urination and heart rate, and even seizures. See 10 Foods Poisonous to Pets for more information.
- Avoid putting costumes on pets. Many dogs and cats don’t like costumes, and some can confine or restrict their movements. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume doesn’t impair their movement, hearing, sight or ability to breathe or bark. Also check the costume for any choking hazards. A safer alternative is a simple Halloween bandanna.
- Keep pets inside and away from the front door and trick-or-treaters. “Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors constantly arriving at the door, and pets may escape the safety of their home, said Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Pet Adoption Center in Manhattan. “Be sure that your pet has identification tags should he or she accidentally get loose.” And remember cats–especially black ones–often fall victim to pranksters.
- Keep candy wrappers away from pets. Cats love to play with candy wrappers, animal experts say–and many cats love to eat strange things. But if cats ingest aluminum foil or cellophane it can cause intestinal blockage and induce vomiting.
- Keep Halloween decorations away from pets. Dogs and cats can easily knock over a jack-o’-lanterns and start a fire. And curious kittens are particularly at risk of getting burned by candle flames. Keep dangling decorations in high places to avoid choking hazards. Wires and cords from holiday decorations also pose a danger to pets. If chewed, a wire can damage your pet’s mouth from shards of glass or plastic or give them a potentially lethal electrical shock.
- Use fake cobwebs sparingly on trees and bushes. They can pose a risk to pets and small birds can easily become entangled in the webbing.