By Dr. Sarah Wallace
We love Halloween. We really do. But as veterinarians, we believe this is an especially a tricky holiday (see what we did there?) given all the candy, costumes and commotion. Please make sure you’re taking the right precautions to make it fun for everyone. Halloween pet safety is just as important as the originality of your costume! IS IT OK TO PUT MY PET IN A COSTUME?
As Instagram-worthy as some of your costumes ideas definitely are, it is important to keep in mind that your pet may not be that enthused. If while donning their costume your pet is visibly uncomfortable (e.g. won’t walk), cannot eat their food or drink water, are getting tangled or caught on objects, cannot see, or they are exhibiting signs of stress (lip-licking, panting, pacing), take it off. Stick to a Halloween-themed bandana or collar. Please also be aware of any easily detachable accessories on the costume, such as buttons or decorations. Some of these can easily become a choking hazard if pulled off and eaten. NO TRICKING– AND DEFINITELY NO TREATING!
Candies are not good for your pet, not on Halloween, not on any other day.
Chocolate tops the list of sweets that should never be given to pets, especially semi-sweet chocolate or baker’s chocolate: the darker the chocolate, the worse its effects. Some signs that indicate your pet may be experiencing chocolate toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm. Chocolate toxicity can lead to pancreatitis and death.
Candies with raisins: these cause kidney failure in dogs. Chocolate-covered raisins (e.g. Raisinets) are obviously off the list.
Hard candy or lollipops: these contain a large amount of sugar, which can lead to digestive issues, extreme drops in blood sugar, liver complications or seizures. Be especially aware of candy that is sweetened with xylitol instead of regular sugar. Xylitol is a popular artificial sweetener (primarily to make things “sugar-free”). Some of the more popular candy and gum sweetened with xylitol are Airheads, Juicy Fruit gum, and Zollipops.
Also, please make sure to keep your pet away from candy packaging, like sticks and plastic wrappers. If ingested, they can result in choking or intestinal blockage.
If your pet consumes chocolate, raisins, candies containing xylitol, please contact the ASPCA Poison Control line or message us on our app to chat directly with our healthcare team! Prepare ahead of time and have emergency numbers readily available. Download the app here(it’s free!). WHAT ABOUT DECORATIONS?
Any decoration with strings, ribbons, or tinsels are possible hazards, especially for cats. Extension cords and decorative light sets can electrocute your pet, so make sure they’re never left unattended! Illuminated jack o’lanterns and lit candles attract the attention of both kids and pets. Instant fire hazard. We don’t want to kill all of your Halloween fun – just make sure to keep all of these spooky decorations and potential sources of trouble out of reach. YOUR HOUSE IS NOT A HAUNTED HOUSE
Don’t leave your pets out in the yard during trick-or-treating hours; bring them inside. Much like 4th of July, having a safe, quiet area away for your pets can mean the difference between a really fun or terribly stressful night. Trick-or-treaters probably mean constant doorbell ringing and commotion. This can be stressful and agitating for pets, especially those who are not used to so much activity in their home. Built-up stress (or straight-up panic caused by the mummy that just came to the door demanding Reese’s) can result in your pet running away frantically from the house. Pets can also react by hurting excited kids or their parents, thinking these creatures want to hurt you.
At a bare minimum, keep this in mind: if the situation seems scary, creepy or loud to you, it is probably scary, creepy or loud for your pet.