Halloween is a fun time of year for humans, but with this festive holiday comes a series of dangers for pets. Small decorations and delicious-smelling candy can make our pets sick, and there’s an increased risk of escape from having doors opening every few minutes. With everyone busy tending to trick-or-treaters and hosting parties, it’s easy to lose focus on what our pets are doing — or, more importantly, what they’re getting into.
It’s a lot to think about on top of everything else you’re doing to prepare for the night, so what’s a pet guardian to do? Fear not. Yes, the festivities that come with Halloween and other holidays mean we need to take some extra precautions to keep pets safe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. With some preparation and making yourself aware of potential dangers, you can help ensure a fun and safe Halloween for pets and humans.
Keep the Treats Out of Reach
One of the top dangers for pets is Halloween candy. Bowls brimming over with candy in shiny wrappers can attract pets like a magnet, and it only takes a matter of seconds for them to knock it over and start digging in to their chocolaty, sugary treasure. Candy, which often contains chocolate or artificial sweeteners, can be highly toxic to dogs and cats and in severe cases, can cause death.
If your pet accidentally ingests something, call your veterinary clinic or a pet poison helpline for advice, and immediately bring your pet into the clinic if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Rapid breathing or heartbeat
- Lethargy or seizures
Candy isn’t the only danger, wrappers can also be ingested and block the intestinal tract. Play it safe by keeping candy and other treats out of your pets’ reach, and store all leftover treats in a cupboard or other safe area that can’t be accessed by curious pets.
Help Prevent Accidental Escapes
An open door also provides the perfect opportunity for an excited dog or lightning-fast cat to sneak outside, perhaps without you even noticing. Some pets might also get spooked by people in costumes or wearing masks, causing them to run in an attempt to get away.
Make sure all of your pets are wearing their collars and ID tags so they can be easily identified if they happen to escape. As an extra safety measure, place an expandable pet gate across your front entrance, allowing you to open the door while still keeping pets contained. If you don’t have a pet gate, consider temporarily placing your pets in a pet kennel or closing them off in another room until it’s safe to let them roam freely again.
Keep Your Pet’s Comfort in Mind
Dressing pets up in costumes is fun, and pretty adorable, but it’s important to remember that not all pets enjoy being dressed up. If your pet shows signs of stress or discomfort — including cowering or a lowered head, a tucked tail or trying to shake the items off — after being placed in a costume, it’s time to take it off. A Halloween-themed bandana, bow tie or collar is a great alternative to costumes and can be just as cute while keeping them comfortable.
If your pet tolerates wearing costumes, make sure that whatever you choose doesn’t restrict movement or affect a pet’s ability to see or breathe. And you should never use costume makeup or temporary hair dyes intended for humans on pets; they can be highly toxic and irritate their skin, eyes, and nose.
Be Careful With Decorations
One of the best parts about Halloween is the decorations but some can pose a danger to pets. Electrical cords for lights should be kept off the floor and tucked behind furniture if possible, and candles should be monitored so they’re not accidentally knocked over. Keep small decorations out of reach, and try to stay away from fake cobwebs and confetti that are not only bad for the environment but a potential choking hazard for pets.
If you use decorations that are animated or make noises, consider placing pets in a different room while they’re in use. They’re fun for us, but can be terrifying for animals — and please don’t intentionally scare pets in an attempt to be “funny,” it’s terribly cruel to cause fear in pets for the sake of entertainment.
It’s entirely possible to have a fun Halloween while keeping pets comfortable and safe. All it takes is paying extra attention to the details and keeping dangers out of reach. Give pets their own place to hang out and make some tasty pet-friendly treats to keep them happy so you can enjoy the night without worry.
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