Halloween will be here in less than a week, and while most small pets will be safely tucked away during any festivities, it’s always a good idea to review pet safety issues to be aware of.
The use of candles for decorating, adding fragrance to the air, or the ever-present jack-o-lanterns poses a threat of burns to a curious pet (or even starting a fire if little Wiggles knocks over a candle). If you choose to use candles, light them only when your pet is safely contained and cannot access the lit item. Better yet, use flameless candles and an air fragrance spray.
Any time that a small pet is out of their enclosure for play and exercise, they must be supervised and everyone in the house needs to be aware that the pet is out. Small pets can easily be stepped on or caught in a closing door or even get outside via an open door. At Halloween, Trick-or-Treaters and party-goers create continuous safety hazards for small pets; costumes reduce one’s field of vision and further increase the hazards for small pets who are not confined. Keep your small pets safety tucked away in their habitat or a safe room during the festivities.
Most pet owners know that candy and other human treat food is off-limits for pets and can even be lethal (chocolate is pet-toxic in very small doses), but Hopper doesn’t know that, and he is still going to try to sneak off with a piece of candy or crisped rice/marshmallow treat. The really smart ones will grab that candy and run away and hide with it! Keep the human treat food sealed in containers and make some safe pet treats for your little furry buddy.
Halloween decorations range from pumpkins and gourds to streamers and plastic window stickers. Small pets (rabbits, gerbils, rats, etc) like pumpkin as part of their diet, and the other stuff is just plain fun to chew on if you are a rodent or lagomorphs.
Untreated pumpkin shouldn’t be harmful, but the other décor may well result in potentially lethal choking or at the least, a trip to the emergency veterinarian for treatment of GI upset or blockage. And those plastic window decals? They peel right off by themselves with changes in the temperature of the window glass and fall to the floor, where they can be chewed on and ingested by small critters.
Here’s a new one: fog machines. Some of them produce fog that contains substances that are hazardous for small pets to breathe in!! Check with your veterinarian before using these machines. If you are using the machines that create fog with dry ice, be absolutely certain your small pet cannot access the dry ice and sustain burns.
Then there’s the noise stress
Spooky sounds and eerie music are often played for Trick-or-Treaters or at Halloween parties. This is just enough to create stress to rabbits and other small pets, throwing them into GI stasis and even worse maladies. Keep the pets as far away from the weird sounds as possible, and try playing some soothing music for them in their room. WDPR (88.1 in Dayton) plays very nice piano sonatas and the like, in the evening hours. A safe, quiet room for your pets has the added advantage of isolating them from the party guests and trick-or-treaters, as so many strange people (!) can quickly overwhelm and stress your pets.
There are several things to consider before dressing up your small pet for Halloween. First, not all pets enjoy being dressed up, and some pets can get so stressed out over this that they actually become ill. It is not always readily apparent from their general personality as to which pets will become upset at being dressed up. My Arctic, for example, is a feisty survivor of head tilt and a general busybody, but try putting a hat or a little cape on her and she immediately shows obvious signs of stress. Cappy, on the other hand, is afraid of pizza boxes, yet she tolerates all sorts of elaborate costumes with no problem. Be attentive to your pet’s behavior and make sure they enjoy the attention and are not becoming stressed. Never put a pet in costume for more than a brief amount of time, and never leave a pet in costume unsupervised.
Keep the cats indoors
You should always keep cats indoors for their own health and safety, but those of you who insist on letting them run loose would be well-advised to bring them in and confine them on Halloween. There are malicious individuals out there who seem to feel that Halloween gives them particular license to torture animals.
Have fun and keep everyone safe this Halloween
Looking for a safe, pet-friendly Halloween event this weekend?
Bring your favorite canine companion to the annual Howl-O-Ween Dog Pawty from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 at the Scout Burnell-Garbrecht Dog Park in Pierce Park (618 Dayton-Xenia Road, Xenia).
Presented by Greene County Parks & Trails with WYSO and Better Images Portrait Studio, the day will include dog costume contests, best radio voice, hot dog bobbin’ contest, exhibitors and so much more. Admission is free with $1 donation per dog. All proceeds benefit the Scout dog Park and WYSO.
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