Pet Safety Tips for Halloween

Halloween is one of those holidays that is more fun for people than for pets. Therefore, I talked with one of my vet friends today about the hazards of Halloween to pets.  He was telling me that he treats a number of pets who are hurt during this holiday.  Here are his suggestions for keeping your pet safe during Halloween:

Keep Pets Away From Dangerous Substances:

1.  Chocolate: Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats.  See my separate blog regarding Chocolate.

2.  Xylitol: Xylitol is poisonous to dogs and ferrets.  Xylitol is an artificial sweetener created from birch, raspberries, plums, and corn.  It causes low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).  Symptoms of poisoning can be seen less than 30 minutes after eating it. Indications of poisoning may include any of the following: vomiting, weakness, uncoordinated movements, depression, seizures, coma, liver failure, death.  If your pet has eaten any sugar-free, low carb or diabetic candy, call your vet immediately.

3. Candy wrappers: Remember that dogs have a great sense of smell and may be tempted to eat nonfood items.  Cellophane candy wrappers or plastic can be a choking hazard and can cause intestinal obstruction.  The most common signs of intestinal obstruction are vomiting, loss of appetite, difficulty pooping or diarrhea, abdominal pain. If you see any of these symptoms, call your vet immediately.

4.  Alcohol: It is a very bad idea to give alcohol to a pet. Sometimes people mistakenly think it will be funny to see a pet intoxicated.  However, this can kill your pet.  Symptoms of poisoning can be seen within 30 to 60 minutes of drinking it.  The symptoms are similar to the previous signs of poisoning and include: vomiting, uncoordinated movements, depression, disorientation, a drop in body temperature, irregular heartbeat, seizures, and death.  If your pet has swallowed alcohol or items with alcohol in it, call your vet immediately.

Keep Pets Inside:

1.  Do not leave pets in the yard.  This is a time when many people are walking around which can scare your pet.  It is very easy for your pet to escape from your yard in a panic.   It is also very easy for your pet to be stolen, hurt, teased, or fed inappropriate and harmful items if it is left unsupervised in your yard.

2.  Be careful that your pet does not run outside when you open your door to trick or treaters. This can be a very stressful time for pets with the increased activity in your neighborhood and people knocking on your door.  A panicked pet frequently will run too far from its home and will get lost or hurt. A good idea is to keep your pets safely enclosed in a room of your home.  Check on them often and give them plenty of assurance that everything is fine and under control.

Decorations:

1.  Candles: Halloween decorations with real lit candles can be easily knocked over and cause a fire.  Curious pets can run the risk of getting burned.  Make sure to keep your pets away from any decoration with a burning candle.

Costumes:

Being dressed in costumes can be stressful for pets.  Unlike human children, this does not create a sense of fun in them and can be uncomfortable.

1.  Rubber Bands: Make sure that the costume does not use rubber bands to keep the costume in place.  If the rubber band is mistakenly left on the pet after the costume is removed it can become embedded in the pet’s skin.

2.  Proper Fit: Make sure the costume is not too tight to restrict blood flow or make breathing  difficult. Make sure that the costume does not obstruct your pet’s vision.

3.  Material: Make sure that the costume  is made of fire retardant material.