If you’re like all of us at Destination Pet, you’re getting ready—and excited—for Halloween. After all, who doesn’t love fun costumes, horror movie marathons, and endless candy? And if you have pets in your home, you want to be able to include them in the fun as much as possible. But it’s important that you make sure that including your pets also means keeping them safe, because this is a holiday that can have dangerous pitfalls for our furry friends.
Here’s a list of things you can do to help keep your pets safe and happy on this Halloween!
1. Keep the trick-or-treat goodies away from the pets
As most people know, all forms of chocolate are harmful to dogs and cats—especially baking chocolate or dark chocolate. Try to keep any treats on surfaces or cupboards that your pet can’t reach or get into, and make sure that all wrappers are disposed of in trash bins that aren’t accessible to the pets. But sometimes accidents happen! If your pet does get into the candy, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
It’s not just chocolate that you should watch out for though—pumpkin and corn can also be harmful to your fuzzy babies. While small amounts of corn and pumpkin can be eaten safely, uncooked and potentially moldy Halloween pumpkins or corn displays can cause health problems. If large pieces of pumpkin are swallowed, intestinal blockage is possible, and mold can produce certain toxins that are harmful to the nervous system. So it’s best to keep those displays outside and away from where your pets could get at them.
If you do think your pet has gotten into something they shouldn’t have, make sure to contact your vet! It’s always a good idea to make sure that you have your vet’s phone number handy on nights like this, and to be prepared with any emergency numbers you might need just in case.
2. Keep your pets inside as much as possible during the night
Black cats are especially vulnerable to malicious pranks on Halloween, and there are reports of individuals teasing, stealing, injuring, or even killing pets on Halloween night. Many shelters won’t even adopt out black cats during October to try to limit any instances of abuse during the holiday. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye on any pet during the night, but try to keep any black cats inside as a safety precaution.
3. Keep your jack-o-lanterns out of reach
Everyone loves the festive look of pumpkins, lit with a candle from within, but a curious cat or dog can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by a candle flame through cut-outs in the pumpkin, so it’s best if you can keep them either in a part of the house they don’t have access to, or keep all the decorations outside!
4. Be careful with costumes
We all love seeing pictures of adorable pets in adorable costumes, but the ASPA recommends that you don’t put your cat or dog into any costume unless you know that they’re comfortable in it. If you do choose a costume that you know they love, make sure that it doesn’t limit his or her movement, and doesn’t restrict their ability to breathe, bark, or meow. Also be sure to check that the costume doesn’t have any pieces that are small or hanging off, which could be chewed off and present a choking hazard. You also want to be sure that it isn’t too big, as ill-fitting costumes can get caught and twisted on external objects, which could lead to injury.
If you purchase a brand-new costume, have your pet try it on the night before Halloween to see if they seem distressed or show abnormal behavior while wearing it. If they seem to be unhappy, consider letting them go without and perhaps wear a festive bandana instead!
5. Keep your pet calm, away from the door, and easily identifiable
Trick-or-treaters can be the best part of Halloween for some people, but it means there’s a constant flow of activity around the front door, which can be stressful for some pets. If you have a dog that reacts to the doorbell ringing or knocks on the door, consider keeping your furry friend in a separate room away from the door, and playing calming music can help ease the stress. If you think that more might be needed to keep your pet calm, consider talking to your vet about advanced options. But, for some pets, it might be best to board them overnight. While it’s always hard to have a night without your best furry friend, if your pet gets overly agitated with the doorbell, it could be healthiest for them to spend the night in a quiet and controlled environment.
If you do have a social dog or cat, make sure that you’re aware of where your pet is every time you open the door—you don’t want them running outside while you’re handing out candy! Make sure that your dog or cat is wearing proper identification during the night so that if they do escape, and it’s always a good idea (not just for Halloween!) to make sure that your pet is microchipped in case they get lost.
6. Don’t leave glowsticks lying around
Glow sticks are a fun part of Halloween, and sometimes can make great parts of kids’ costumes! Pets, especially cats, often find glowsticks to be great fun as well, which can lead to trouble. The ASPA reports that they often get calls on Halloween about cats puncturing glow sticks and ingesting some of the liquid. While most of the glow sticks are labeled as non-toxic, they have a very bitter taste, and pets who ingest the liquid do tend to get agitated and drool more than normal. The ASPA’s tip? A little treat or a sip of milk can help stop the taste reaction quickly!
Halloween can be stressful for your pets, but it doesn’t have to be! Just make sure that you keep anything toxic out of reach, and keep an eye on anxiety-prone pets, and take the steps necessary to keep them happy and healthy—whether that’s extra training, medication, or boarding for the night. This way, your whole family—human and furry babies alike!—can enjoy a fun and spooky night!
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