Here’s how to keep Fido and Fluffy safe on the scariest night of the year.
1. Keep pets away from the candy bowl
Not only is chocolate toxic to cats and dogs, but pets have a tendency to ingest not only the candy, but also the entire wrapper. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to your pet. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar. Hard candies and lollipop sticks are also choking hazards as they can easily get lodged in pets’ throats. If you worry your furry pal has taken a treat from your Halloween haul, monitor them for diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate and tremors, and call your veterinarian immediately if you witness any of these signs.
2. Stock pet-friendly treats
Include your pet in the trick-or-treating fun by providing a special Halloween sweet made especially for them. Squeaky pumpkin-shaped toys are also a great option to keep Fido entertained while you sort out candy with the kids.
3. Use caution when dressing up
Dressing up your cat or dog for Halloween can be loads of fun, however safety should be the first priority when choosing a spooky disguise. Neck, leg and tail openings should be large enough to allow movement, and Velcro and elastics shouldn’t be so tight that they rub or pinch your pet’s skin. Allow a two-finger width between the costume and your pet’s neck to ensure unrestricted airflow and make sure there’s nothing obstructing his or her vision. Remember to always keep a close eye on costumed pets. If they seem uneasy about their new disguise and are trying to wiggle free, remove the costume immediately.
4. Try on pet costumes before the big night
Don’t wait until Halloween night to put your pet in a costume for the first time. Get your pet costumes early, and put them on for short periods of time (and piece by piece, if possible). Make it a positive experience by offering lots of praise and treats. Inspect your pet’s costume for dangling ties that they might trip over and remove sequins or bobbles that can be chewed on. If at any time, your pet seems distressed or develops skin problems from contact with a costume, consider letting him go in his “birthday suit.” A festive bandana may be a good compromise.
5. Remember IDs
Always make sure your pet has proper identification in case they escape into the night. While veterinarians and humane societies all have microchip scanners, your neighbours do not. Ensuring your pet has a collar with their name and your contact information on it increases the chances they will be returned to you in the event they become lost.
6. Know when to take furry trick-or-treaters home
Taking your dog trick-or-treating can be loads of fun but some pets may find the excitement of the evening too much to handle. Even the gentlest of animals can become aggressive when frightened. Keep a close eye on your pet and take them home at the first sign of agitation.
7. Walk safely
Keep Fido on a short leash while trick-or-treating and make him visible by adding reflective tape to the costume or a collar with LED lights. Small pets are especially at risk of being trampled by excited trick-or-treaters.
8. Give pets a safe room
Even the most social pets can become frightened by the barrage of costumed children showing up at the door and agitated by the constant ringing of the doorbell. Provide a quiet room for your pet away from the front door. Not only will it prevent an escape into the night, but it will also help ease the Halloween jitters. Be sure to include all of your pet’s essentials in the room: food, water, toys and a litter box for cats.
9. Bring outdoor cats inside
Your cat may love to prowl outdoors, but Halloween night contains too many dangers to allow cats to wander. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. The noise and excitement on the street can be overwhelming and cause them to run off and get lost. While your cat may not be happy about being trapped indoors, his well-being is more important than missing a midnight jaunt.
10. Make decorations pet-friendly
Replace your jack-o’-lantern candle with a battery-operated flame or flashlight. Candles are a fire hazard as they can easily be knocked over by excited tails. Tape down any electrical cords that pets can chew and avoid using decorations with dangling edible parts. Pets who chew on electrical cords can receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock or burn. Batteries may cause chemical burns when chewed open or gastrointestinal blockage if swallowed. Shards of glass or plastic can cause lacerations anywhere on the body or, if swallowed, within the gastrointestinal tract.
11. Keep glow sticks away from pets
While glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween night, they can add some unwanted drama to the holiday if a pet chews one open. The liquid inside glow sticks is non-toxic, so it won’t make your pet sick but it does taste awful. Pets who get into a glow stick may drool, paw at their mouth, become agitated, and sometimes even vomit. If your pet does chew on a glow stick, offer some fresh water or a small meal to help clear the material out of the mouth.
12. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach
While small amounts of corn and pumpkin can be fed safely to many pets, ingesting uncooked, potentially moldy Halloween pumpkins or corn displays can cause big problems. Gastrointestinal upset is a possibility whenever pets eat something they aren’t used to, and intestinal blockage can occur if large pieces are swallowed.