While you likely enjoy the hustle and bustle of Halloween festivities, the costumes, and the candy, consider this spooky holiday from your pet’s perspective. Halloween can be stressful for pets, which can lead to a scary emergency. Our Companion Veterinary Clinic team shares four tips for taking the fright out of your pet’s Halloween night.
#1: Don’t let your pet become a candy caper
From bowls full of candy to children’s overflowing trick-or-treating bags, Halloween presents a number of opportunities for pets to get into potentially toxic treats. The Pet Poison Helpline experiences a drastic increase in calls around Halloween involving pets who have ingested some of this holiday’s common toxic treats. They include:
- Chocolate — Chocolate is toxic for pets because this favorite candy contains theobromine and caffeine that act as stimulants and can cause cardiac and neurological changes. Although dark and bitter chocolate are the most toxic for pets, milk chocolate consumed in significant quantities can also trigger cardiovascular and gastrointestinal effects.
- Raisins and chocolate-covered raisins — Raisins can be extremely toxic to pets and can lead to kidney failure. When covered in chocolate, they are a seriously toxic treat for pets.
- Sugar-free candy — Xylitol is a natural sugar alternative found in sugar-free candy, gum, and baked goods that is extremely toxic to dogs. This ingredient can cause low blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure, and can be fatal in severe cases.
- Candy corn — Candy corn contains large amounts of sucrose and glucose that can cause your pet gastrointestinal issues with severe diarrhea and vomiting.
- Macadamia nuts — These nuts are highly toxic to dogs, and only a small amount can cause weakness, tremors, and lethargy.
- Candy wrappers — Candy wrapper ingestion can result in a dangerous intestinal blockage that requires surgical removal.
Store all Halloween candy in a high cabinet that your pet cannot reach and ensure wrappers are not left lying around.
#2: Prioritize comfort over cuteness with pet costumes
While pet costumes are adorable, not every pet wants to dress up as a hot dog. Consider your pet’s personality when choosing their costume, and simplify with a festive bandana or collar if you know they will be less than tolerant or stressed. If you do decide to dress up your pet, always supervise them, and keep these safety tips in mind:
- Choose a comfortable costume — Ensure your pet’s costume doesn’t restrict movement, obscure their vision, or hinder their breathing.
- Remove choking hazards — Remove any small or chewable pieces (e.g., buttons) on your pet’s costume that could come off and become a choking hazard.
- Watch for stress — If your pet appears uncomfortable, undress them right away. Signs of discomfort include folded down ears, refusing to move, pacing, a tucked tail, and hunching over.
- Keep it quick — Your pet might humor you wanting a Halloween photo, but keep the session brief to avoid discomfort or overheating.
#3: Avoid a pet disappearing act
The strange Hallowen sights and sounds can cause pets to panic, so keep your pet inside to prevent them from running off in fear. Take the following precautions keep your pet safe and secure:
- Microchip your pet — If your pet is already microchipped, ensure your contact information in the microchip company’s database is up-to-date. If your pet isn’t microchipped, contact your veterinarian to schedule the simple procedure before Halloween.
- Check your pet’s collar — Your pet’s collar should fit well and display current identification tags.
- Keep your pet secure — Depending on your pet’s comfort level, keep them confined in a quiet room during trick-or-treating, or on a leash a safe distance from the door.
While most pets do best at home on Halloween, should your family take them trick-or-treating, keep them on a leash at all times, and add reflective tape to their collar or costume for increased visibility.
#4: Pick pet-friendly decorations
Halloween decorations, especially the following items, can be dangerous for pets and should be avoided:
- Decorative corn — Corn cobs are common fall decor staples, but they are indigestible and can obstruct your pet’s airways or become an intestinal blockage if ingested by your pet.
- Candles — Your pet can easily trip or tip over candles inside carved pumpkins and be burned, or start a fire.
- Glow sticks — The liquid inside most glowsticks is nontoxic, but can make your pet uncomfortable, and cause drooling and vomiting.
As you plan for the spookiest time of year, ensure you and your pet are prepared for possible accidents. Contact our Companion Veterinary Clinic team to have your pet microchipped, or to discuss anti-anxiety medication if Halloween’s goblins and ghouls make your pet fearful.