Halloween implies trick-or-treating, party-time, and dressing-up for both children and adults. But what do all the strangers at your door, and extra candy at the end of the day, mean for your pet?
Unfortunately, Halloween isn’t a fun or safe day for some pets. Cats, and especially black cats, often find themselves the victims of abuse, and even death, at Halloween. People have been known to perform ritualistic abuse and horrible cruelty upon pets on or about October 31. Do the right thing for your feline friends and keep them safe and indoors all during the year; and please take extra precautions during the upcoming Halloween weekend. (It is for this reason that many adoption agencies and rescues will not allow black cats to be adopted on or around Halloween.)
Who among us doesn’t love chocolate candy? The celebration of Halloween means an abundance of chocolate being brought into the house as trick-or-treat booty, or as an item to stock up on for holiday visitors. Please remember to keep all of your Halloween candy out of the reach of your pets. Chocolate contains “theobromine”, “a bitter alkaloid…closely related to caffeine that occurs especially in cacao beans and has stimulant and diuretic properties”. (Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary – 10th edition) According to the Montgomery County Humane Society website, mchumane.org, “The AAHA says four to 10 ounces of milk chocolate, or one-half to an ounce of baking chocolate, can kill a small dog like a toy poodle. For medium-sized dogs, such as a cocker spaniel, one to one-and-a-half pounds of milk chocolate, or two to three ounces of baking chocolate, can be fatal. And for large breeds, two to four-and-a-half pounds of milk chocolate, or four to eight ounces of baking chocolate, can kill.” If you think your dog has ingested chocolate in any of these forms or amounts, please contact your veterinarian or poison control immediately for emergency steps that can be taken to save your pet. “Signs of chocolate toxicity include tremors, nervousness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, siezures and death.” (About.com – Veterinary Medicine)
In addition to chocolate candy, please remember that candy is for people and should not be fed to pets. “Candies, gums, mints, baked goods and chocolate containing the “sugar free” sweetener “xylitol” are especially poisonous, causing rapid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure in dogs and possibly other species (ferrets). Other candies, such as lollipops and those with plastic components, pose a danger if ingested. Lollipop sticks and plastic parts can cause intestinal obstruction and potentially rupture the intestines, which is a life-threatening emergency.” (About.com – Veterinary Medicine) Lastly, be certain to properly dispose of all candy wrappers. Although the candy is gone, the yummy smell still lingers on the foil or waxed paper.
Costumes, while playing an integral part in celebrating Halloween, may not be the best idea for your pet. If you feel you simply must dress up your pet for Halloween, please take the following precautions:
1. A pet wearing a costume should never be left alone or unsupervised.
2. When a pet’s costume includes elastic to ensure a proper fit, please be certain to monitor the area of your pet’s body that comes into contact with the elastic to be sure that your pet’s fur has not become entangled; and that the area of your pet’s body that is in contact with elastic has not become swollen and/or painful.
3. If a pet wears a costume for a long period of time, it may begin to chew on the costume and could ingest it. Any ingestion of costume material could cause an internal obstruction which can result in a very serious situation.
4. If you take your pet outdoors in costume as part of a family trick-or-treat activity, please be sure the pet is leashed. If a pet in costume escapes or becomes frightened, the costume could become entangled on trees, fences, and other landscaping material.
Although Halloween decorations and party accessories may appear harmless, they can be potentially dangerous to your pet and your home. “Candles and Jack-O-Lanterns within a pet’s range are a fire hazard. Wagging tails and frightened cats zooming through the house can easily tip over a candle or carved pumpkin, causing burns or a fire.” (About.com – Veterinary Medicine) In short, keep your pets out of the range of all decorations they could chew on, knock over, or become entangled in.
Halloween can be a fun-filled time of year for you and your family. But your pet may not feel the same way. To ensure a safe and happy celebration for the entire family, make sure your pet is kept stress-free and out of harms way. While some pets actually enjoy the commotion of people visiting and door bells ringing, others simply find the whole experience frightening and stressful. No one knows your pet better than you do. If your pet isn’t a fan of visitors, be sure you keep him or her in a safe, quiet room, set up just for them, behind closed doors. Remember to include a nice cozy bed for them to rest in; and all the necessities your pet may need, which may include toys, food, water, or a litter box. Even if your pet usually enjoys visitors, the commotion of Halloween may be too much for any pet. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Take every precaution necessary to keep you, your pet, and Halloween trick-or-treaters safe from harm.