As the werewolves howl and the ghosts emerge on Halloween, several dangers arise for your pet. Our team at Emerald Animal Hospital covers do’s and don’ts to keep your pet safe this holiday season.
DO identify your pet
Your pet can easily become frightened during the Halloween festivities. The slasher noises from the television, ghoulish decorations, and elaborate costumes are designed to be frightening, and your poor pet doesn’t understand the fun in a good scare fest. If they become spooked, they could easily become lost. Tragically, about 10 million pets go missing every year, and many of these incidents occur on Halloween. By ensuring your pet is wearing a well-fitted collar and identification tags with your current contact information, you can help ensure they are returned home safely. A better way to ensure they are returned is to also have them microchipped. This simple procedure can be performed at your pet’s next wellness visit, and will permanently identify your precious pet.
DON’T leave your pet outside on Halloween night
Unfortunately, Halloween brings out some people’s dark side, and pets are frequently targeted. Black cats are especially vulnerable during the Halloween season. Keep your pet safe by ensuring they stay inside, away from these troublemakers. If you are having friends over, consider creating a safe area in an interior room to keep your pet calm and stress-free. In addition to their necessities, you can keep low music playing to block out unsettling noises, and provide a food-puzzle toy to keep them focused and entertained. Check on your pet throughout the evening, to ensure they aren’t upset or stressed.
DO ensure your pet is comfortable in their Halloween costume
Not all pets are amenable to wearing a Halloween costume, and if your pet becomes upset or stressed when you start dressing them, do not force them to participate. If your pet is cooperative, ensure their costume is safe. Factors to consider include:
- The costume’s fit — If the costume is too tight, your pet’s skin could be irritated, or they could have difficulty breathing. If the costume is too loose, they could get tangled in the extra material. Ensure your pet’s costume fits well.
- Your pet’s mobility — Some costumes may impede your pet’s mobility, causing them to panic. Ensure your pet can move around easily in their costume.
- Your pet’s vision — A costume that impedes your pet’s vision could be a safety hazard. Ensure your pet can see normally in their costume.
- The costume’s embellishments — If the costume has embellishments that could cause your pet to trip, or tempt them to chew on the material, this could be a safety hazard. Ensure your pet’s costume doesn’t have any loose parts.
DON’T allow your pet to plunder the trick-or-treat basket
Candy is a quintessential Halloween treat, but the sweet stuff can be dangerous for your pet, who can easily choke on a small piece. The plastic and foil wrappers can also cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, which frequently requires surgery to correct. Some morsels found in the trick-or-treating basket are actually toxic to your pet. These include:
- Chocolate — Chocolate in all forms, especially dark chocolate and baking chocolate, is toxic to pets. The ingredients theobromine and caffeine stimulate their nervous system, increase cardiac and skeletal muscle contractions, and increase circulating endorphin levels. Ingestion results in signs including vomiting, diarrhea, and restlessness.
- Xylitol — This ingredient, commonly found in sugar-free foods, causes insulin release, which results in your pet’s blood sugar dropping. Signs include weakness, incoordination, and seizures.
- Raisins — Grapes and raisins are a real danger to pets. The toxic component has not been identified, but these seemingly healthy treats can cause kidney failure in pets. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
DO keep your pet away from Halloween decorations
Some Halloween decorations go far beyond carved jack-o’-lanterns, and these elaborate set-ups can be dangerous for your pet.
- Animated props — Animated decorations, especially those that move suddenly, can startle your pet, and they may become stressed, or run away.
- Electric cords — Festive lights, noise machines, and several other decorations need electricity to function. If your pet is prone to chewing on electrical cords, ensure the cords are well hidden, so your pet isn’t tempted.
- Dry ice — Dry ice is a creepy addition to a Halloween party or haunted house, but the smoking substance can damage your pet’s skin, if they get too close.
DON’T allow your pet to eat the Halloween party food
A sudden change in your pet’s diet can cause an upset stomach, and if the food is high in fat, they are also at risk for pancreatitis. Certain common party foods are also toxic to pets, including:
- Macadamia nuts — Nuts are high in fat and can cause gastrointestinal upset, but macadamia nuts cause weakness, vomiting, and tremors.
- Onions — Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic contain thiosulphates, which make your pet’s red blood cells fragile, leading to anemia. Initial signs include lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Nutmeg — This ingredient, commonly used in pumpkin spice recipes, causes stomach pain, confusion, and seizures.
Do enjoy your Halloween this year, and don’t forget to safeguard your pet before the frightening festivities. If you would like your pet microchipped before the big, scary night, contact our team at Emerald Animal Hospital, to schedule an appointment.