Pet Safety Tips for a Happy and Safe Halloween
Pet Safety Tips for a Happy and Safe Halloween
Halloween celebrations are filled with thrills but this time of year can pose serious scares and threats to our pets. We have a few Halloween pet safety tips to help you make it through the holiday with as few issues as possible.
Trick-or-treat Candies Are Not for Pets
Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for cats and dogs, and sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems in pets.
Xylitol, a natural sugar alternative, is even more toxic to dogs than chocolate, its use is becoming increasingly common, and too many people are still unaware of the very real and serious dangers that xylitol poses to dogs. Hard candies, sugar-free gum, and even some chocolates are just a few of the many types of products that can contain xylitol.
If you have children, make sure they don’t leave their candy lying around anywhere that’s accessible to your dog. And be sure to hang any bags or purses up where your dog truly can’t reach them. Even just a small piece of gum like you would find in Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum contains enough xylitol to severely sicken or even kill a small dog, and it doesn’t take much more than that to pose the same danger to larger dogs.
Chocolate is typically the reason behind most calls to veterinarians during this time of year. And yes, chocolate can be problematic for pets. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic and problematic it is for dogs and cats. This is because the concentration of theobromine, a caffeine-like compound found in chocolate, is higher the darker the chocolate is.
While many people are aware of the danger chocolate poses to dogs, the same danger for cats is far less publicized.
Snack and Candy Bags
The actual treats in your kid’s Halloween bounty aren’t the only potential food-related problem for your pets — the wrappers and bags those treats come in can also cause problems. Ingested candy wrappers can lead to digestive system inflammation and/or obstruction, resulting in episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea, as well as an unplanned trip to the veterinarian, and possibly the surgery table. Signs could include vomiting, decreased energy and/or appetite, or straining to defecate. Candy bags and salty snacks (e.g., chips, pretzels, etc.) bags can also turn deadly in a matter of minutes.
If you suspect your dog has eaten something harmful you may call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888 426-4435) or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) 24 hours a day, year-round. Also, identify in advance the emergency veterinary clinic nearest your home and post that information on your refrigerator beside the poison hotline number.
There’s something incredibly endearing about a pet in costume, but chances are good our four-legged friends don’t enjoy them as much as we do. Pet costumes should be properly fitting and not obscure vision, breathing, movement, or inhibit bathroom needs. A safe costume won’t have any dangling strings or other parts, nor will it have buttons or anything small that can be chewed off and swallowed. Remove your pet’s costume immediately if they are showing signs of stress, such as refusal to move, whining/howling, shaking, or trying to run away. A cute orange bandana tied around the collar or leash is a safe way to stay festive.
Another thing to consider are the safety hazards to pets and your entire family when pumpkins and candles are lit. Pets may knock these items over resulting in your pet being burned or other items catching on fire. The good news about pumpkins is that a small amount can make for a tasty, healthy treat for your pet. As always, always check with your veterinarian first before offering your pet a new diet or treat.
Keep glow sticks away from pets
While glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween night, they can add some unwanted drama to the holiday if a pet chews one open. Although the liquid in these products isn’t likely toxic, it tastes really bad and makes pets salivate excessively and act strangely. Pets who get into a glow stick may drool, paw at their mouth, become agitated, and sometimes even vomit.
Doctors recommend that if your pet does chew on a glow stick, offer some freshwater or a small meal to help clear the material out of the mouth.
Keep electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations out of reach
Electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations are certainly safer than open candles, but they still can present a risk to pets. Pets who chew on electrical cords can receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock or burn. Batteries may cause chemical burns when chewed open or gastrointestinal blockage if swallowed. Shards of glass or plastic can cause lacerations anywhere on the body or, if swallowed, within the gastrointestinal tract.
In general it is best to keep pets away from the Halloween festivities. Some animals become distressed by the change in environment and the increased noise of doorbells and trick or treaters may cause pets to act out of character, resulting in biting or escaping. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure your pet is wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.
Planning ahead can keep your kids and pets safe to enjoy the spooky holiday of the year.
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About Shallowford Animal Hospital
Shallowford Animal Hospital and The Pet Spa at Shallowford are dedicated to the exceptional, compassionate care your pet deserves. Pets hold a very special place in our families, and we treat yours like our own.