Although many of us humans – both adult and child – really enjoy Halloween, it’s not a very good time for many of our pets. In fact, after the Fourth of July, it’s probably the next worst Holiday for them.
Therefore, The American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has listed a few common-sense cautions that will help to keep your pets safe and stress-free this time of year.
And if you suspect that your pet has ingested any of the potentially dangerous substances listed below, please call your veterinarian immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
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.
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 or her 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. 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!). But for pets that prefer only their ‘birthday suits,’ however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.
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 or her ability to breathe, bark, or meow. Also try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic, or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him or her go au naturel or just donning a festive bandana.
7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure that it does not have small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces that he or she 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, especially strangers in creepy costumes.
9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take extra care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.
10. And IDs, please. Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet flees this Halloween and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can greatly increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you.