Halloween is a joyous occasion if you are a child. Children get to dress in their favorite costume and go door to door collecting candy all night; what could be better? However, Halloween is not so fun if you are a pet. There are unfamiliar noises, strangers in costumes, knocks at the door all night, among many other things. The following are suggestions to keep your pet safe and stress-free this Halloween.
Keep your pet in a safe and quiet part of the house.
Constant knocking and doorbell ringing all night can be stressful for pets. Loud noises and people in costumes could cause your pet to become agitated and uncharacteristic behavior may result. Cats also tend to run when they hear loud noises, so make sure they stay inside. Unless you have a very social dog, the best place for your pets on Halloween is tucked away in a quiet room of the house and out of harm’s way. You may also want to play soothing music to drown out the noise and activity.
Keep chocolate out of your pet’s reach.
Eating chocolate can be fatal for a pet. Chocolate contains a substance known as theobromine, a bitter, caffeine-related alkaloid, which can have a dangerous effect on your pet. If this chemical builds up in your pet’s system, it can be lethal. The effects of theobromine on a pet depends on their size and the quantity of chocolate eaten. Less than 1 oz. of chocolate per pound of body weight (i.e., less than 10 oz. eaten by a 10 pound animal) can be lethal. If your pet ingests any amount of chocolate, call your veterinarian right away and report your pet’s weight and the estimated amount of chocolate ingested. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, heavy breathing, muscle tremors, seizures, lack of bladder control, and in the most severe toxicity cases, coma. These blatant indicators mean something is wrong with your pet and they require prompt veterinary attention.
Keep your pets away from Xylitol.
Xylitol, is a sugar substitute, that can be found in many forms of foods and candy products. Xylitol is not known to be dangerous to people, however veterinarians are seeing increased rates of Xylitol poisoning in dogs.
Pet owners need to be aware if Xylitol is in products and be very vigilant so that their pets don’t ingest it. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports that in 2009 there were over 2500 cases of Xylitol poisoning in pets handled by the ASPCA, which represents a 40% increase over a 3 year period. Any animal that ingests Xylitol, even in very small amounts, should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Keep decorations out of reach.
Make sure decorations that pets could chew on (like streamers and fake spider webs) are out of reach. I’ve seen a case where a cat’s intestines became clogged after consuming a synthetic spider web, so I would caution against decorating your house with these webs if you have curious cats (are there any other kind?). Also make sure jack-o-lanterns with candles and flames are out of harm’s way.
Don’t dress up your pet.
Most pets don’t like to be dressed up for Halloween. Costumes can confine your pet’s movement and masks can obstruct their vision. If you happen to have one of those rare dogs who like being dressed up, make sure the costume is safe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement, sight, or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe or bark. Keep a look out for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could possibly choke on.
Make sure your pet has proper identification.
Your pet should be wearing a collar, along with a proper id tag, in case your pet escapes despite your best attempts. If your pet becomes lost, check with your local humane society and animal control right away. For more advice on locating your lost pet, refer to this previous Pet Chat column: http://independent.com/news/2009/may/22/what-do-when-your-pet-goes-missing/
A Word About Black Cats
The superstition surrounding black cats cause them to be the target of pranks on Halloween. Therefore, people with black cats should be extra careful about keeping them safely inside on Halloween. The concern is serious enough that most humane societies avoid adopting out black cats during the Halloween season due to the risk of them being harmed.
Keeping these safety tips in mind, you can have a safe and happy Halloween with your children and pets!
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