As Halloween approaches, take some time to consider the festivities from your pet’s perspective—costumed strangers, masks, doorbells, and the constant commotion can be a nightmare for them. Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic has five tips to help you plan a safe, calm, fear-free night of fun for you and your pet.
#1: Cutest pup-kin in the patch—choose a comfortable pet costume
Our sweet pets are such good sports to let us adorn them with festive attire on nearly every holiday—bunny ears, antlers, birthday tiaras—you get the point. Halloween is no exception, and you’re probably digging out that pumpkin costume Fido modeled last year, as we speak.
We’re all for adorable pet costumes—with proper “compensation” in the form of praise and treats, of course. Before dressing your pet in a costume, however, consider the following, to ensure a positive experience for all parties.
- Comfort — Choose a costume that fits your pet comfortably, without interfering with movement or breathing.
- Safety — Ensure your pet’s costume is free of any adornments they could ingest. Swallowed objects can lead to intestinal blockage, turning a night of fun into a scary pet emergency.
- Duration — After snapping some cute photos, give your pet a break, to avoid overheating.
- Supervision — Always supervise your pet in their costume.
#2: All tricks, no treat—keep your pet secure and calm at home
You may walk your dog in the neighborhood every day, but on Halloween, that usually familiar route is anything but, and the unfamiliar sights and sounds can overwhelm the most easy-going pet. A fearful pet can react unpredictably, and nothing is scarier than a pet getting loose. To keep your pet comfortable and stress-free on Halloween, leave them home in a calm, quiet space, away from the front-door commotion.
- Keep your pet secure — The front door continually opening and closing on Halloween night provides many opportunities for your pet to slip out. Keep your pet secure in a crate or quiet room away from the action, to avoid a possible escape.
- Create a calm oasis — Turn on music or television for background noise, and provide plenty of engaging toys to keep your pet distracted.
- Consider medication — Contact your veterinarian if your pet is highly anxious, to discuss the benefits of anti-anxiety medication.
#3: Watch out for candy capers—keep Halloween treats away from your pet
Some of us stash away the giant bags of Halloween candy to keep ourselves from digging in before the trick-or-treaters come. Now you can add your pet’s safety to the list of reasons why you should lock up the goodies, out of sight. Many sweets contain substances that can be toxic for your pet, including, chocolate, raisins, and sugary candy.
- Get the kids on board — Remind children not to share food with your pets, and, as you pass out candy to trick-or-treaters, check for any dropped pieces.
- Know the most dangerous treats — While your pet really shouldn’t be consuming any sweets, some of the most harmful and potentially toxic Halloween candy for pets include:
- Sugary candy
- Macadamia nuts
- Caramel apples
- Candy corn
- Be prepared for an emergency — Keep the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline number handy, and call your veterinarian or the helpline immediately, if you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance.
#4: Avoid a disappearing act—microchip your pet and update identification
If your pet does get loose on Halloween—or any other time, for that matter—proper identification and a microchip can help you get them home safely and quickly.
- Collar — Your pet’s collar is their first line of defense if they get lost. Ensure their collar is comfortably secure, with current identification tags.
- Microchip — Microchipping is simple and safe, and allows you to be contacted when your lost pet is found, whether or not their tags or collar have slipped off. If your pet isn’t already microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the quick procedure. Remember, for your pet’s microchip to be effective, ensure your current contact information is registered with the data company.
#5: Decorations can be dangerous—know your pet’s risk
Spooky decorations add to the Halloween ambiance, but can pose a safety risk for a curious or clumsy pet. Be aware of the following hidden pet dangers when decorating your home for Halloween:
- Pumpkins — While pumpkin can be good for your pet in small quantities, too much can cause digestive issues.
- Fog machines — The solutions used in some fog machines can be toxic for your pet. Use them only in areas away from your pet, or better still, skip the fog altogether.
- Jack-o’-lanterns — Candle-lit jack-o’-lanterns and wagging tails do not mix. Keep candles and carved pumpkins up high, where pets can’t knock them over, or get burned, or opt for a faux candle as a safer alternative.
- Glow sticks — The liquid inside most glowsticks is non-toxic, but can make your pet uncomfortable, and cause drooling and vomiting. If glow sticks are a part of your Halloween decor, keep them away from your pet, and dispose of them carefully.
- Cords and battery-powered decorations — Cords and batteries can look like fun for a playful pet, but mistaking them for a chew toy can cause serious injury, including burns, electrical shock, and intestinal blockages, if swallowed. Always unplug decorations when not in use, and keep battery-powered decorations away from your pet.
Every holiday is more fun with our pets, and with these simple tips, you can both enjoy a safe, fun, and fear-free Halloween. Contact Haskell Valley Veterinary Clinic to have your pet microchipped, or to discuss anti-anxiety medication for your pet. Happy Howl-o-ween!