Trick Or Treat, Smell My Feet… please don’t let Scruffy steal chocolate treats! (and a few other Halloween safety tips)
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays BY FAR! Who doesn’t love an excuse to slightly over indulge on lovely chocolate and sweet treats, especially anything with peanut butter (Reese’s are my true weakness)! As much fun as the chocolate can be for us, it is extremely dangerous for our pets and the calls to animal poison control centers increase for chocolate ingestion now more than any other time of year! Listed below are several other potential dangers for your pets during All Hallows Eve. If we become more informed about all of the potential issues, this can save major headaches (and cash money) over the holiday season.
Pick Your Poison:
Chocolate. Everybody’s favorite, and the one that typically leads to the most calls to veterinarians this time of year. As many of you know, chocolate is problematic to cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic, and the smaller the quantity necessary to see effects. For pets with pre-existing heart disease or seizure conditions, the concern is even higher, as these are two of the big ‘target organs’ for the toxic effects of chocolate.
Raisin toxicity. Known to be a problem for some dogs (and possibly some cats), raisins may be found in your child’s candy bag as part of certain chocolate bars, or on their own from well-intentioned neighbors trying to provide healthier Halloween treats. We don’t know which pets will be sensitive to the toxic effects of raisins, nor the number of raisins that must be ingested before problems are seen. It’s best to play it safe and take the necessary precautions to prevent all of your pets from ingesting any quantity of raisins. (Grapes and currants have the same toxic potential as raisins, and so should be similarly avoided.)
The actual treats in your kid’s Halloween bounty aren’t the only potential problem for your pets either. Candy wrappers that are eaten by your pet can also lead to digestive system inflammation and/or obstruction, resulting in episodes of vomiting and/or diarrhea, as well as an unplanned trip to the veterinarian, and possibly the surgery table. Keep candy well out of reach of all your pets. Hang your children’s candy bag high-up on a wall hook or coat rack, and don’t leave the trick-or-treat candy you are planning on distributing sitting out on the coffee table while waiting for the neighborhood kids to start arriving.
It’s bird, it’s a plane…it’s UNDERDOG!:
I don’t know about you all, but I love any chance for an embarrassing photo opportunity for my pet. Case in point…my little Underdog and her look of disgust below. When it comes to costumes for our furry friends, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid loose pieces of fabric and dangling small objects (such as bells). Pets may be tempted to chew off such objects. And if swallowed, you could be looking at a veterinary bill in excess of $1,500 to have it removed from their stomach or intestines since many of these objects will not pass on their own.
- Avoid masks on pets. Masks can obstruct your pet’s vision and/or their ability to breathe. If your pet can’t see well they’re at greater risk of traumatic injuries – such as broken bones from stepping in holes or falling off curbs, as well as from being struck by a passing car. Broken bones require expensive surgeries to repair, and hit-by-car injuries can result in prolonged intensive care hospital stays and/or death.
- If you plan on taking your pet with you around the neighborhood for your night of Halloween fun, be sure to include some reflective or self-illuminating material on your pet’s costume. The earlier it gets dark out, the less visibility cars have overall so anything you can do to increase your pet’s visibility to passing cars will help to ensure that they won’t wind up getting hit by one of them. Also consider putting a flashing light on their collar for nighttime walks, at Halloween and throughout the year.
While we’re on the topic of trick or treating, for pets that will join you around the neighborhood, keep them on a leash the whole time. A leash will not only keep your pet from darting in front of a passing car, but it will also help you prevent them from eating dropped candy which could be potentially toxic. Leashes also prevent dog fights and keep spooked dogs from running off. Little children in costumes can set up a potentially terrifying situation for some of our more anxious pets. Importantly, don’t let a young child be the only one holding on to your pet’s leash during the walk. This is good advice throughout the year, but even more so on Halloween when passing trick-or-treaters are an additional factor that can cause pets to slip their collars or pull away from their leash.
Keep your cats inside on and around Halloween. Aside from all the normal dangers that outdoor cats face daily, Halloween (and the even more dangerous ‘Mischief Night’ that precedes it) potentially carries with it the additional dangers of twisted kids (and sadly, adults too) intentionally traumatizing, mutilating, or otherwise torturing cats on these nights, especially black cats. Though such incidences sadly occur throughout the year, there may be an increased risk associated with this holiday. Don’t take the chance – keep ‘em inside.
The constantly opening doors associated with gobs of tiny trick-or-treaters also pose a significant danger to pets. Pets with access to opening doors may take advantage of the opportunity to bolt out of the house, not only putting them in danger of the typical outdoor hazards unrestrained pets face, but also of having a paw, tail, or other part of their body caught in the door as they make their escape. Such traumatic events can cause injuries significant enough to warrant an expensive orthopedic surgery or a prolonged hospital stay. Confine your pets to a ‘safe area’ of the house to prevent their access to open doors. Use pet crates, baby gates, or closed doors to do so. Providing them with food, water, litter boxes, and anything else that will be necessary to minimize their stress (perhaps an interactive food toy or a turned on television or radio) will also help to decrease the likelihood of destructive behaviors or loud barking.
With a little effort, our pets have the potential to have just as much fun as their people this Halloween season. As long as we take the necessary precautions to keep our pets safe, there’s no reason we all