As the leaves begin to change and the pumpkin spice flavoring gets out of control, you know Halloween is around the corner. You have carved the jack-o’-lantern, chosen your Halloween costume, and bought pumpkin-shaped peanut butter-filled chocolates, but have you taken steps to protect your pet during the horrifying holiday? Our Fremont Animal Hospital team wants to help by providing Halloween safety guidelines for your pet.
Ensure your pet is properly identified
Howling ghosts, cackling witches, and moaning zombies are enough to scare any pet. Loud crowds and people dressed in strange costumes can startle your pet and send them looking for a safe place to hide. Take steps to ensure your pet is properly identified should they go missing. Guidelines include:
- Microchip your pet — Microchipping is a simple procedure that permanently identifies pets. The small chip allows veterinarians and pet shelter employees to access your contact information if your pet is found. If your pet is already microchipped, ensure your contact information in the registry’s database is accurate.
- Check your pet’s collar and tags — Ensure your pet’s collar is secure and your contact information is up to date on their identification tags.
Keep your pet inside
Adults and kids who have imbibed a little too much may think playing a prank on your pet is amusing. Black cats are common stunt targets, but nothing about harming or scaring your pet is funny. Keep your pet inside to ensure they aren’t targeted. Guidelines include:
- Keep your pet away from the door — If possible, keep your pet in an interior room in your home so they can’t sneak out through an unsupervised door. If you have guests, ensure they are alerted and do not let your pet escape as they go in and out.
- Create a quiet zone — Designate a quiet room where your pet can escape if they are overwhelmed. Provide your pet’s favorite toys and bedding, and leave music playing to mask outside noises. A food puzzle toy is a great way to distract your pet from the Halloween festivities.
Safeguard your pet from Halloween treats
Halloween wouldn’t be the same without trick-or-treat candy, but these treats can be dangerous for your pet. Beware of the following common Halloween delectables:
- Chocolate — Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which act as central nervous system stimulants in pets. Signs include restlessness, diarrhea, excessive panting, and seizures.
- Sugar-free candies — Xylitol is a common ingredient in sugar-free candies that causes hypoglycemia in pets. Signs include weakness, vomiting, seizures, and collapse.
- Raisins — Grapes and raisins contain an unidentified toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
- Caramel apples — Ingesting large amounts of sugar can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets. The apple seeds contain cyanide, which is toxic to pets, and can lead to signs such as dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and shock.
- Macadamia nuts — Nuts have a high fat content that can trigger pancreatitis in pets. Macadamia nuts contain an unidentified toxin that causes signs including lethargy, weakness, and tremors, and are especially dangerous.
Choose pet-safe Halloween decorations
Decorating your home is fun and gets you in the Halloween spirit, but some decorations pose a threat to your pet. Beware of these Halloween decorations:
- Candles — Lit candles are fire hazards, especially when your curious pet is surveying the area. An inquisitive paw or unruly tail can easily knock over a candle and cause a fire. Keep lit candles out of your pet’s reach or opt for faux candles.
- Electrical cords — Many pets have an affinity for chewing on electrical cords, which can cause an electric shock. Keep cords contained or use battery operated decorations.
- Glow sticks — If your pet chews on a glow stick, the stick will leak the liquid inside that, while not toxic to pets, can cause irritation and then excessive salivation in your pet’s mouth.
- Dry ice — Dry ice creates a creepy atmosphere, but the vapor is carbon dioxide gas. If your pet inhales the gas, they can experience respiratory distress.
- Small baubles — Any small decoration can be a choking hazard or be swallowed, resulting in a gastrointestinal obstruction.
Be careful when dressing your pet
Pet costumes are adorable, but not every pet wants to play dress up. If your pet is amenable, costume guidelines include:
- Choose the right costume — Ensure your pet’s costume fits properly, doesn’t restrict their movement, and allows them to breathe normally.
- Remove embellishments — Remove any embellishments that your pet may be tempted to chew or swallow, and could become a gastrointestinal obstruction.
- Keep the fashion show brief — Your pet may be obliging and allow you to dress them in a costume, but they likely don’t enjoy the situation. Take a few photos and then let your pet go free.
Watch out for pet anxiety
Many pets experience anxiety when their environment changes. Increased neighborhood activity, trick-or-treaters ringing the doorbell, and family members dressed in scary costumes may cause your pet to feel stress or anxiety. Signs include excessive panting, hiding, vocalization, pacing, and inappropriate elimination. If your pet is anxiety-prone, talk to our veterinary professionals before Halloween so we can determine if an anti-anxiety medication would help.
Follow these guidelines to ensure your Halloween festivities aren’t interrupted by a veterinary emergency. If you would like your pet microchipped before the Halloween season, contact our Fremont Animal Hospital team, so we can get them properly identified and help prevent them from getting lost.