Halloween is my five-year-old son’s favorite holiday. There is no other day of the year where he is allowed to consume enormous amounts of candy without his parents batting an eyelash.

However, Halloween isn’t such a joyous occasion if you’re a pet. There are unfamiliar noises, strangers in costumes, knocks at the door late at night, and tempting treats that can be fatal. The following are suggestions to keep your pet safe and stress-free this Halloween.

Lisa Acho Remorenko

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. A veterinarian should see any animal that ingests Xylitol, even in very small amounts, 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. 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 do not 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 does not 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.

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!


16 Kittens from Santa Maria Need Immediate Homes!!

ASAP, the nonprofit organization which cares primarily for the cats at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter in Goleta, has mobilized to provide critical assistance to the Santa Maria Animal Center (SMAC) during the fungal disease outbreak (ringworm) that is affecting both dogs and people at that shelter.

While this fungal outbreak is limited to the dogs and people at SMAC, there are other animals that need critical help—most notably kittens! SMAC will be closed to the public until the fungal outbreak has been contained, and many kittens are at risk of languishing in cages for weeks on end, with no potential adopters allowed entry.

In response to this situation, ASAP offered assistance and agreed to take all of the adoptable kittens from SMAC. Because the ASAP shelter is currently operating at capacity with over 200 cats and kittens, temporary foster homes have been found for all of the 16 kittens transferred from Santa Maria. These kittens will then be available for adoption at a special event on Sunday, November 1, 2015 from 11:00 AM-3:00 PM at the Pet House, located in the Calle Real Shopping Center in Goleta. “At times like these, it’s imperative that our community work together to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable animals, like these 16 kittens”, says ASAP’s Executive Director, Angela Walters Rockwell. “This is what ASAP does best—we mobilize our staff, volunteers and fosters, and reach out for local support. We are thrilled that The Pet House so eagerly responded to our call about having the special adoption event—and we know that people in our community will step forward to adopt these kittens. Our goal is to find loving homes for all 16 kittens this Sunday!”

In appreciation for all of the adopters that come to the ASAP/Pet House event, special adoption fees will be offered on November 1 only: $35 for a single kitten, or two kittens for just $50. Potential adopters must still complete an application and be screened—and all of the kittens will have received a thorough veterinary exam and vaccinations, as well as have been spayed/neutered and microchipped.

Adoption Event Information: Sunday, November 1, 2015 from 11:00 AM-3:00 PM at the Pet House, located in the Calle Real Shopping Center, 5781 Calle Real, Goleta 93117. For more information, please call 805-794-9574 or email director@asapcats.org.

ASAP is very grateful to Santa Barbara County Animal Services for their hard work in containing the fungal outbreak in Santa Maria, and for the support of The Pet House and everyone in our community for this adoption event.


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