As Halloween approaches, you may think your party animal of a pet would enjoy all the hustle and bustle associated with this spooky holiday. However, many pets find Halloween celebrations stressful and scary. Protective dogs and shy cats may not appreciate the constant line of trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell, disrupting their quiet environment. And, what pooch in their right mind would want to do their business in the yard next to a shrieking ghost?
View Halloween from your pet’s perspective, and don’t let your furry pal find themselves in a scary situation. Follow our tips to keep your pet out of mischief this spooky season, so they can receive plenty of treats for not playing any tricks.
Be wary of yard decorations spooking your pet
That afore-mentioned ghost can really startle your pet, along with various other yard decorations that moan, howl, yell, and pop out of hiding places. You may also find that keeping your cool is tough, as you and your pup take a relaxing stroll around your neighborhood. In addition to the yard decorations’ scare factor, these animated monsters often have electrical cords running willy-nilly across the lawn. Your pet will be in for a shocking surprise, along with electrical burns, if they choose to investigate these “snakes” in the grass, so ensure all power cords are kept out of reach.
Jack-o’-lanterns are another popular yard decoration that can be hazardous. Lit candles can singe your pet’s fur, battery-powered lights are toxic if ingested, and that rotting pumpkin that may still be sitting on the front porch at Christmas can cause a serious gastrointestinal upset.
Keep all the candy to yourself
Keeping the candy all to yourself should be an easy safety tip to follow, but pets are sneaky about snatching forbidden treats. Dangerous toxins can lurk in your candy bowl, so keep the following treats out of your pet’s paws:
- Chocolate — This well-known toxin is still one of the most common problems for pets, especially with all the chocolate goodies available during Halloween. While a small milk chocolate candy bar likely won’t cause your pooch any harm, larger quantities can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and a racing heart rate.
- Sugar-free candies and gum — Xylitol replaces sugar in these sweets, and, while a healthier option, xylitol can cause a drastic drop in a pet’s blood pressure, lead to liver failure, and can be fatal for dogs.
- Raisins — Boxes of raisins are a popular Halloween treat, but when ingested, your pet can suffer from inexplicable kidney failure. Not all pets will experience kidney dysfunction, and the number of raisins that will cause toxicity is not known.
- Wrappers — While not toxic, candy wrappers and bags can pose a choking hazard, or create a gastrointestinal obstruction.
Watch out for home decor disasters
Be aware of which decorations pose threats. Some hazards are obvious, like lit candles and corn cobs hanging off that harvest display. Other potentially dangerous decorations include rubber eyeballs and body parts (i.e., choking risks), glow sticks and fake blood (i.e., possible toxins), and synthetic cobwebs (i.e., choking risks, or risks for entangling pets and wildlife). Instead of allowing your pet to rampage through your Halloween decor and possibly be harmed, block their access to unsafe items, and create pet-friendly decor specifically for their pleasure. Build a cardboard box haunted house for your cat, or create trick-or-treating fun for your pet with small treats and toys placed in a paper bag.
Chuck the too-tight pet costume
Although nothing is more adorable than a pet in a giggle-inducing costume—like a Chihuahua in a taco suit—most pets don’t appreciate costumes other than their birthday suit. If you choose to dress up your pet, ensure the size is appropriate, and nothing is too tight, especially around the neck and legs. Avoid dangling pieces or parts, such as buttons, ribbons, and ties, that can easily be chewed off.
For your own costume, keep in mind that your pet may not recognize you, and become frightened, especially if you wear a mask or hood. Show your pet that the creepy creature is really you by allowing them to sniff the mask beforehand, and then putting on the mask in front of them, to help them make the association.
Don’t let your pet stay out too late
While supervising your pet when they’re outdoors is always important, it’s especially critical on Halloween. Walk your pet before night falls, and bring them in from the backyard before it gets too late. If your pet is left alone in the yard, they may become frightened of the costumed people walking around, and search for ways to escape your yard.
In case your pet should escape—whether through the front door while you’re handing out candy, or under the fence—ensure beforehand they are wearing tags with current identification, and that their microchip is registered with up-to-date information. Proper ID will help you reunite with your lost pet if they disappear into the night.
If your pet gets into any tricks this Halloween, our Harbor Pines Veterinary Center team is here to help. Give us a call if your furry pal raids the candy bowl, eats your jack-o’-lantern, or needs a microchip inserted before October 31.