Boo! The number of little ghosts and goblins that head out trick-or-treating this year may not be as high as in past years due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that the number of treats in our homes will go down! And there will still be children who do go trick-or-treating and many of us will still decorate our homes and dress up their pets in spooky costumes! By following these 6 tips you can keep your pets safe, healthy and happy this Halloween.
- Decorate with your pet in mind. Carefully carved Jack-o’-lanterns make for fun and spooky decorations. But candles can become a fire hazard if your dog bounds into one knocking it over. Or a curious cat or dog could be burned by an open flame. Place Jack-o’-lanterns where your pet can’t get at them. Battery-powered candles and lights are much safer than open flames, but still pose a danger to your pets. Batteries can cause chemical burns in the esophagus (throat) or stomach if chewed on or swallowed.
- Keep your pet inside. Keep your pet securely inside a bedroom or other safe area of your home. With the doorbell constantly ringing or youngsters shouting “Trick or Treat!” and strangers at your door every few minutes, pets can become frightened. This fear can lead to aggression (barking, growling, or even biting) or can result in a panicked dog or cat escaping out the door.
- No treats for your pet. No Halloween treat is a treat for your pet. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and depending how much chocolate was consumed and how dark the chocolate was, it can be fatal. Candies and gum that contain xylitol can be deadly. Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), liver failure, seizures, and even death in dogs. Foil or cellophane wrappers can cause intestinal upset or even an intestinal blockage. Keep the loot bags out of your pet’s reach.
- Leave your dog at home. The idea of taking your dog trick-or-treating with you and your children is well-intentioned, but in reality, your dog is likely better off at home. The extra people on the streets, the strange and mysterious noises coming from people’s homes, children squealing, and bizarre costumes can be overwhelming for a dog. Even the friendliest of dogs may bark, growl, or snap at trick-or-treaters. If you decide to take your dog with you, be sure he is on a leash and keep him under control.
- Pet costumes. If you decide to dress your pet in a costume, make sure it fits properly, is pet safe, and your pet tolerates it. As with children, costumes shouldn’t restrict your pet’s hearing, sight, or movement. Be sure that your pet can breathe easily and supervise your pet the entire time it is wearing the costume. Try out the costume before Halloween arrives to get your pet used to it. If your pet seems distressed by the costume, try something different!
- Make sure your pet has ID. Accidents happen even when all the precautions are taken. Ensure your pet has a collar with identification tags (with your phone number) and is microchipped. Check to make sure that the contact information associated with the microchip in the registry is up to date. An ID tag and/or microchip can be a lifesaver.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween!