Keep Halloween happenings on the down-low
•Before the trick-or-treating starts, put your pets in a quiet room where they will be safe from all the Halloween activity.
•Even if you are just having friends over for a Halloween party, keep your pets away from the festivities in their safe room. Masks and costumes change how people look and smell to a pet, so even familiar people may become frightening.
•When going out trick-or-treating, leave your dog at home. Dogs can be easily excited by the Halloween commotion, and a bite or a lost dog will quickly end the evening’s fun.
The top Halloween hazards for pets are escaping and being poisoned. Both animal shelters and veterinarians see a spike in their business during the Halloween season.
Stow treats out of pets’ reach
•After you’ve let your pets out of their safe room, place treats safely in a high cabinet secured with a lock or child-safety latch. Many foods, such as chocolate, gum and xylitol (a sweetener used in many foods) are hazardous to them.
•Keep treats away from your children unless you are observing them. Children may make the harmful mistake of sharing with their four-legged friends.
•Wrappers: Generally when pets eat candy, they don’t bother to remove the wrappers. Ingestion of foil and cellophane wrappers can cause a life-threatening bowel obstruction, which if severe, can require surgical intervention to correct. Watch for vomiting, decreased appetite, not defecating, straining to defecate, or lethargy. X-rays may be necessary to diagnose this problem.
•Keep on hand the number for the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 1-800-213-6680. If you suspect your pet has eaten something that’s bad for her, call your veterinarian or the Poison Control Center immediately.
Give your pets a haven where they can feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed—tucked away from any Halloween hazards. Even outdoor cats should be brought in to the house (or at least the garage to be safe for the night.
Steer your pets away from dangerous decorations
•Introduce your pets to their safe room before you decorate indoors. Changes to your home can make your pets, especially cats, nervous or frightened.
•Never leave your pets alone with Halloween decorations.
•Glow sticks and glow jewelry: Pets, especially cats, love to chew on these items. Over the past year, Pet Poison Helpline received nearly 80 calls concerning pets that punctured glow sticks or glow jewelry, and 70 percent of the calls involved cats. While not usually life-threatening, their contents can cause pain and irritation in the mouth, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth.
•Be aware of which decorations pose threats. Some hazards are obvious, like lit candles (fire hazards and toxic to birds if scented). Here’s a partial list of other dangerous decorations: rubber eyeballs (choking risk), and fake blood (possible poisons), fake cobwebs (can choke or entangle pets and wildlife), potpourri (toxic to birds) and strung lights.
•Remember that most pets are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suits.
•If you do choose a costume for your pet, forgo masks, anything that covers eyes or ears and everything that might tangle in your pet’s legs.
•Make sure the costume is comfortable and allows your pet to move freely.
•Remove any chewable parts or objects that could come off and choke your pet.
•If your pet appears uncomfortable, take off the costume. Signs of discomfort include folded down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, a tucked tail and hunching over.
*An estimated half of pet owners dress their pets in costumes for Halloween. Pumpkins and ladybugs are the perennial favorites.
Protect your pets from outdoor perils
•Bring your pets indoors before night falls. Cats are always safest inside with you, but on Halloween it’s especially important to secure all pets inside.
•If you can keep your pets safely secured in a room in your house until all of the activity is over.
•In case they escape, make sure that all of your pets are wearing tags with current IDs (and consider microchipping them). Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates plenty of opportunities for a pet to slip outside and disappear into the night. Proper ID will help you reunite with your lost pet.
•Be aware that not all the wild creatures outside will be wearing costumes. You may see nocturnal animals such as raccoon, opossum and fox foraging for food while you’re trick-or-treating or walking from your car to a party.
•If you come across a wild animal, just keep your distance and make a lot of noise (and keep your dog safely beside you on a leash, too), continue on your way and consider yourself lucky to have experienced a bit of the truly wild world on All Hallows’ Eve.