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 pet 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, especially dogs. 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 depend on their size and the quantity of chocolate eaten. 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, especially sugar-free candies and gum. 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 they see thousands of cases of Xylitol poisoning in pets each year. 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.
Put the pumpkin somewhere safe.
Make sure Jack-o-lanterns with candles and flames are out of harm’s way. Candles in Jack-o-lanterns can singe curious pets or cause fires if knocked over. The American Veterinary Medical Association even cautions against using glow sticks in pumpkins as they can cause pets to salivate excessively and behave strangely if ingested.
Avoid dressing 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 pets who likes 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. Keep a look out for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could possibly choke on. PetMD suggests taking the time to let your pet try the costume and get used to it before the big night. If your pet doesn’t seem thrilled to be wearing the costume, try a bandanna or a new festive collar.
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 efforts. 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.
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!
New Website for Dog Lovers in Santa Barbara
Two months ago, a new website was created by local dog lovers for all things dogs need and want in Santa Barbara County. This site makes it easy to find information about dog events, activities, and other services. Businesses and services can register on the site, and they donate $5 for every registration. The site will also be opening up for online marketing for local Santa Barbara dog products and 20 percent of the sales will go to local dog shelters. For more information, check out www.dogdaysinsb.com
C.A.R.E.4Paws Dog Wash Fundraiser
Sunday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Arroyo Burro Beach (Hendry’s) in Santa Barbara, C.A.R.E.4Paws will be holding a dog wash fundraiser. All funds raised will benefit the C.A.R.E.Paws mission to reduce pet overpopulation in Santa Barbara County. Stop by and let the volunteers pamper your pooch! For more information, visit http://www.care4paws.org/images/dogwash2013.pdf
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Baby is a six-year-old female American Staffordshire Terrier. She is an easy-going girl who always has a smile on her face. She absolutely loves chasing after the ball and would make a great companion for your outdoor adventures. Baby would do best in a home without any kitties. She does get along with some dogs and kids. Come in and meet this amazing gal today! For more information, call 805-964-4777, visit www.sbhumanesociety.org, or come to the Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Rd. Shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.