Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Here are some tips for keeping your pet safe on the spookiest night of the year and in the weeks leading up to it:

Keep Candy and Chocolate Away from Pets

Candy & Wrappers

Keep holiday treats and candies, out of your pet's reach as they can make your pet quite sick. If eaten, candy wrappers can cause an upset stomach.

Chocolate

Unsweetened, dark, bittersweet and baking chocolate can be toxic to pets, especially dogs, who are more prone to eat it. If your dog eats chocolate, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center, as treatment may need to be rendered immediately. Symptoms of toxicity include excitement, nervousness, trembling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, muscle spasms and seizures.

Xylitol

Keep gum, candy or breath fresheners containing the sweetener xylitol away from your dog. When a dog eats even a small amount of xylitol, it causes a surge of insulin, and the animal's blood sugar may drop quickly and dangerously. Cases of liver damage have also been associated with ingestion of xylitol. If you suspect your pet has ingested xylitol, some signs to look for are depression, loss of coordination and vomiting. The signs of illness may occur within minutes to days of ingesting xylitol. Contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control center immediately.

Keep Pets In When Trick-or-Treaters Are Out

  • If you plan to participate in Halloween festivities, such as answering your door to trick-or-treaters, keep pets in a quiet part of the house. Pets can become overexcited, confused or frightened by trick-or-treaters in costume.
  • Watch for open doors and make sure your pets have ID tags and/or microchips in case they do get out. Remind your guests that your normally friendly pet may want to be left alone. Young trick-or-treaters may be scared of dogs who run excitedly toward them when the owner answers the door.
  • Outdoor pets, especially black cats, should be kept indoors on Halloween.

Decorations Are Potential Tricks

  • Halloween decorations such as fake cobwebs should be kept out of reach of pets.
  • Glow sticks can be hazardous if chewed or ingested. While not usually life-threatening, they can cause mouth pain and irritation, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth.
  • Light strands, loose wires and electric cords can be a serious hazard to your pet, especially puppies, who may chew them.
  • Never leave candles, such as those in jack-o-lanterns, unattended, especially around puppies and kittens.
  • Never allow your pets to eat a leftover jack-o-lantern, as a rotted, moldy pumpkin can make them seriously ill.

Costumes May Not Be a Treat

  • Some pets may not mind "dressing up" for Halloween, but, for others, it could be a stressful experience best avoided.
  • Costumes should fit properly and not hinder your pet's movement, vision or breathing.
  • Have your pet try out the costume several times before Halloween so it can get used to wearing it.

Published: October 5, 2009;    Updated: October 31, 2013

Filed Under: Seasonal Issues, Cats, Dogs

Sources: Various, including Pet Poison Helpline

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