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 you keep them 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 going on outside.

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, a coma may result. 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. 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 pets or cause fires if knocked over. In addition, the American Veterinary Medical Association cautions against using glow sticks in pumpkins, as they can be dangerous to pets 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 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. 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 www.independent.com.

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!

Adoptable Pet of the Week

Charlie is a very sweet, affectionate and playful white Toy Poodle, just a little over six pounds. Charlie was abandoned in a county stray shelter, and then rescued out of the shelter by K-9 PALS. We don’t know why anyone would want to give him up because he such a sweet lovable little boy. Charlie loves to curl up on a lap or next to you, and loves being held and petted. He loves taking walks, and he also loves car rides. He is housetrained and has very nice house manners. He really likes to be around other dogs but would be great as a single dog in the home because the company of people is what he loves most of all. According to the shelter’s records Charlie is about 10 years old, although no one would guess that because he is very spy and alert. Charlie is neutered and current on all his vaccinations. For information about Charlie, call or email to 805-570-0415 or info@k-9pals.org.

To view more photos and story on Charlie, and more dogs for adoption from K-9 PALS and courtesy posts for dogs of the County Shelters and other rescue groups, go to the K-9 PALS website K-9Pals.org K-9 PALS provides free dog behavior training sessions for people who have adopted a dog from any shelter, rescue group, or humane society. K-9 PALS (K-9 Placement and Assistance League, Inc.) is the all-volunteer, no-kill, non-profit 501C3 organization dedicated to providing humane care, forever homes and advocacy for homeless and abandoned dogs for more than 15 years. All donations go directly to benefit abandoned dogs in order to save lives, and find forever homes for them. Information on K-9 PALS is available at K-9Pals.org, or 805-570-0415, or info@k-9pas.org or at K-9 PALS, P.O. Box 60755 Santa Barbara, CA 93160-0755.

K-9 PALS’ next community event is the Popovich Pet Comedy Theater Saturday, November 8, 2 p.m. at the Arlington Theatre. Be sure to use the word “Woof” when you purchase your tickets so that a portion of your ticket proceeds will benefit K-9 PALS. Come see the show and help to support K-9 PALS at the same time! Photo courtesy of Bonnie Baker

Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions, www.animaladoptionsolutions.com


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