Top Eight Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Parents

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families, but for pets it can be a downright nightmare. Forgo the stress and dangers this year by following these eight easy tips recommended by the ASPCA.

1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets.
Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be lethal for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian, the Animal Medical Center of Seattle’s emergency line at 206-204-3366, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.

2. Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween.
Surprisingly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless. Better yet, keep your outdoor cats inside several days before and several days after Halloween. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution.

3. Keep pets confined and away from the front door.
Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends. Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxious and growl at innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your dog or cat in a secure room away from the front door will also prevent them from darting outside into the night … a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

4. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach.
Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, however, such plants can induce gastrointestinal upset should your pets ingest them in large quantities. Intestinal blockage can also occur if large pieces are swallowed. And speaking of pumpkins…

5. Don’t keep lit pumpkins around pets.
A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

6. Keep wires and electric light cords out of reach.
Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

7. Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know they’ll love it.
For some pets, wearing a costume may cause undue stress. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe or bark and meow.

Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury. Be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

8. IDs, please!
Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

Posted in Pet Safety.

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