Halloween is a fun holiday for families, but there are special considerations to take in order to keep everyone safe, especially those with fur.
“The most common danger of Halloween for pets is the large amounts of candy available in the household,” said Dr. Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia. “Of course, most people are aware that chocolate is very dangerous, especial dark or baking chocolate.”
Signs that a pet has consumed chocolate include vomiting (possibly with blood), diarrhea, restlessness or hyperactivity, rapid breathing, muscle tension and lack of coordination, increased heart rate, and seizures.
“Fortunately we do not see a lot of these cases. Most of the time owners catch it and bring the pet in right away so we can induce vomiting and remove the chocolate, “Vega said.
Candy with xylitol, such as chewing gum, can also be toxic to pets while hard candies and wrappers can be a choking hazard, so it’s best to keep all candy inaccessible to pets by storing in a pantry or enclosed space or in the refrigerator.
Decorating for Halloween is another area that can be hazardous to your pet. As Vega explained, “Just like with Christmas, you must be sure your decorations are pet safe, especially ones that they can reach. “
In particular, lighting up pumpkins or other festive projects with candles can cause burns to curious pets or a fire hazard for the whole family.
“There are so many fake candle options available now that use battery power, solar or electricity, that there is no need to use real candles,” Vega said. “There are also glow lights that are available to use, or be creative and use a battery-powered string of lights instead.”
The commotion of trick or treaters, ringing doorbells, and the opening of doors can be nerve-wracking for some pets, especially if they’re already on the anxious or shy side. Thankfully, there’s an easy solution, as Vega illustrated.
“I usually put my pets away in my bedroom with the TV or radio on as a distraction. If your pet is still a nervous Nellie, you can plan ahead and get some sedatives or natural alternatives made specifically for anxiety. There are many options to try, just check with your veterinarian for suggestions,” she said.
It is also recommended to keep pets at home while trick or treating, rather than taking them out into dark, loud, potentially scary situations that can cause them to react negatively or get startled and escape.
Finally, if you’re one of those pet owners that think dressing up their pet can be just as much fun as dressing up themselves or the kids, you’re not alone.
The National Retail Federation estimates that 20 million pet owners will spend $350 million for Halloween costumes for their dog or cat in 2016. Perennial favorites for pets include Ewok, shark, or hot dog costumes, while Donald Trump and Ghostbusters are hot trends for this year.
Some pets like dressing up more than others, so make sure your dog or cat is comfortable with wearing a costume and never leave them unattended while outfitted.
“You do not want them to get tangled or caught up in their costume and have no one available to help them out,” Vega said.