October has arrived, and Halloween is fast approaching! As you’re getting your best ghost stories ready, preparing to brave haunted houses, and shopping for the perfect costume, follow these common-sense tips to make sure that you and your pets have a safe and happy Halloween.
1. Pets and Candy Don’t Mix
It’s common knowledge among people that chocolate is poisonous to cats, dogs, and many other animals, but our pets don’t know that! Some candies, such as those containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol, are extremely dangerous to pets, and no candies are good for them. Make sure to stash Halloween treats out of reach of pets on a high shelf or behind a closed door. It’s also a good idea to talk to any children in your household to make sure they understand why they shouldn’t share their trick-or-treating spoils with Fido or Mr. Whiskers. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have, you should give a call to your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center right away.
2. Use Caution with Decorations
Some decorations can be a hazard for curious pets. Jack-o-lanterns with lit candles inside are a big concern; make sure any fire, however small, is far out of reach of pets who might burn themselves or knock a candle over. The pumpkin itself, while not toxic to cats or dogs, may cause digestive trouble if eaten raw. Pumpkins that have been carved and left out can also grow mold and illness-causing bacteria.
Less obvious hazards include any small decoration that might be ingested or cause a choking hazard, such as fake spiderwebs. Lights and other decorations using electricity should also be used with precaution. Make sure that any electrical cables aren’t exposed where chew-happy puppies might find them.
3. Make Sure Costumes Are Safe and Comfortable
Having your pet wear a costume can be a fun way to let them join in on the festivities, but use caution and make sure that any costumes used are safe. Outfits should not be uncomfortable, restrict your pet’s movement, or block their vision. Look out for small pieces that can be chewed off and become a choking hazard and supervise pets while they have their costumes on. Some pets simply do not enjoy wearing clothing; don’t force a costume on an animal that is in obvious distress.
You may be able to train your pet to wear a costume by introducing it to them
gradually: have them try it on well in advance of the holiday and wear it for short periods of time throughout the month. You can make it a positive experience for them by providing treats and plenty of praise. However, some pets will never be comfortable in a costume. If this is the case for your pet, a good compromise might be to purchase a Halloween-themed collar or bandana.
4. Keep Pets Safely Inside
Cats and dogs love to dash through open doors. If you will be opening your door repeatedly throughout the night to great trick-or-treaters, it’s wise to keep your pet safely enclosed in another room to keep them from darting outside and possibly getting lost. Be sure to bring any outdoor pets inside for the night as well. Not all of the goblins and ghouls roaming the streets on Halloween are friendly to animals; “pranksters” are known to injure, steal, or even kill pets. Black cats are at an especially high risk of attack because of their association with witches and bad luck. It’s best to keep all animals indoors or on a leash during the holiday.