Halloween Safety Tips
1. No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy.
- Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate—and even seizures.
- Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. In cases of significantly low blood sugar, liver failure has been known to occur.
- Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are swallowed. (As we head toward decorating for Thanksgiving or Christmas… some popular plants used are much more toxic and hazardous).
3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.
5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets, and can be fun and great with others!! Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams and some are pretty neutral!). Some even love going out with the family in costume for trick or treating. But for pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress. For some pets walking with the adult who is supervising the trick or treating is better than leaving them home, but don’t send your pets out with your children. It can end up being traumatic for both the kids and the pets.
6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also try on costumes before the big night (at least during the day today, if you haven’t already). If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au natural or donning a festive bandana. Also, if you are one to dress up to give out candy, make sure your pets are comfortable with your costume or mask. And make sure that your pets are either their to watch you and kids dress up or remove the masks and scary parts before they see you, after coming home.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets. Another option is to put up a baby gate in front of the door,leaving the front door open, so you don’t have the constant ringing of the door bell. Many pets do much better with that because they feel part of the activities without the noise.
9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside, another plus for using the baby gate idea. Make sure that birds, exotics, and pocket pets, etc are in their cages or in restrained areas as well.
10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification, and today is definitely a day when they should be wearing them! If for any reason your pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you. And if you are taking your pet trick out trick or treating with the family, ID’s and leashes are a must!
11. Do not leave your pets at home alone during peak trick or treating hours, (or during ‘trick or treating hours’ at all if you can help it). The noise of children running, the strange sounds, and the doorbells can be very stressful and even traumatic for pets. If you can’t be home, get a pet sitter or drop them off with someone who will be home. For most of us, someone can stay behind to give out candy and be with the pets or if you are going to a party, they usually start, or at least get going, long after the trick-or-treaters have gone.
12. If you are Having a Halloween Party or Going to One, take your pets to a friends’ or family member’s house, board them, or take them to a sitter. Large amounts of people, lots of costumes and scary noises, doors opening and closing where they can get out and lost, and dropped food or food and alcohol given them by unknowing or drunk friends can mean disaster for your pets!!
13. Be a responsible pet parent, companion and animal caretaker and use your common sense like you would with your small children to keep your pets’ safe and stress free! If you do suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.