When ghosts and goblins come knocking on your door this Halloween, be ready to make it a good experience for trick-or-treaters as well as your pets. Americans spend an astounding $7 billiion on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations annually. Here are some tips to keep your pets out of harm’s way on this spooky holiday:
– Candy, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be highly toxic to dogs and cats. Same goes for candy made with the artificial sweetener xylitol. For example, xylitol, found in gum and candy, can cause dangerously low blood sugar or liver disease in dogs. Chocolate can create a range of symptoms, from vomiting to abnormal heart rhythm to death. Even snacks that are healthy for humans, such as raisins, can cause a toxic reaction. Keep candy where it’s out of reach for pets.
– Make sure your pet has an I.D. — microchip, collar or ID tag — in case it escapes through an open door while you’re distracted with trick-or-treaters.
– We spend nearly $300 million on pet costumes, but we need to get it right for our pet’s safety. If you decide to dress up your pet in a costume, make sure it doesn’t mind. Some pets are o.k. with it, others are definitely not. If wearing a costume upsets your pet, then skip it.
– Pet costumes should fit properly, be comfortable, and not have any pieces that could be easily chewed off. Your pet’s costume should not impede their breathing, movement, hearing or vision. If possible, let your pet get used to a costume before Halloween by letting it wear the costume for short practice periods. Never leave your pet unsupervised while it’s wearing a costume.
– If you’ve decorated for Halloween, keep in mind that some pets may try to eat decorations, such as pumpkins or objects that include actual corn. These can cause upset stomachs or even more serious digestive blockage, so hang decorations up high and/or out of reach. Be especially careful with lit candles and jack-o-lanterns as pets can easily tip these over and cause fires.
– Kids ringing doorbells all evening can drive dogs and cats a little crazy. Dogs may bark excessively and cats may run and hide — and any pet could dart out an open door. Put your pets in a quiet room far from your front door; put up a baby gate or close the door; or turn on your TV or music to disguise doorbell ringing.
– Kids in costumes can be frightening to many dogs. Only very calm, unflappable dogs should be outside with you on Halloween and only on a leash. Calm, well-trained dogs can be asked to “sit” and “stay” to greet trick-or-treaters and then given treats to reward their good behavior.
– Unfortunately, Halloween can be a time for pranksters, especially those who get kicks out of being cruel to animals. Any pet can
be at risk, but especially black cats. Don’t let your pet out alone in the yard during the Halloween season. Outdoor cats should be kept indoors for the week leading up to and following Halloween.
– For families that want to include their pets in the Halloween festivities, there are Halloween-themed events scheduled in the Minneapolis metro area. Here are a few links to check out for pet-friendly Halloween events:
If your pet is still highly stressed by Halloween in spite of all your precautions, ask your vet for suggestions on herbal calming remedies or mild tranquilizers.