Have a Safe Halloween with Pets

Halloween’s coming, and that means pet owners should be thinking about their pets’ safety as well as holiday fun. Treats like chocolate and caramel can be harmful or even fatal to some types of pets. In addition, excitement and activities surrounding Halloween may frighten pets or place them in harm’s way. For a safe and fun Halloween with your pets, follow these simple suggestions.

Keep Pets Safe from Candy

Put all Halloween candy on a high shelf that pets can’t access until it’s time to start handing out sweets to trick-or-treaters. When it’s time to give out candy at the door, put dogs in their crates or a safe room, and shut cats in a safe room with food and water. Caged pets should remain securely caged. This will ensure that the pets don’t snatch a treat while you’re not looking. It’ll also prevent them from dashing out the door or frightening a child.

If your pet does accidentally consume Halloween candy, gather the facts before you panic. Unless your pet has an allergy to theobromine, ingestion of a small amount of chocolate isn’t likely to cause anything but a digestive upset. Dark chocolate is worse than milk chocolate due to a higher concentration of theobromine. If your dog or cat eats candy, call an emergency veterinarian immediately for advice. However, you may not have to seek veterinary care. Observing the dog closely for symptoms of a severe reaction may be all that’s necessary.

Black Cat Safety

No pet should be allowed outdoors without supervision on a major holiday like Halloween. Trick-or-treaters could accidentally drop a piece of candy, or might taunt and harrass pets. Black cats are at a greater risk due to their association with Halloween throughout history. In fact, so many people impulsively acquire black cats in October that many rescues refuse to adopt out any black cats during that month. Adopting a pet because it “goes with” a holiday is always a bad idea. Worse yet, some abusers seek out black cats to torment near Halloween.

If you have a black or dark-colored cat, shut it indoors in a safe room with food, water, and a litterbox as soon as the sun goes down, particularly if it’s normally an indoor/outdoor cat. If the cat leaves the house while you’re giving out treats at the door, it could be at risk for intentional or accidental harm.

Plan Safe, Fun Activities

Some people like to involve their pets in Halloween by answering the door with them or dressing them in costume and showing them off to trick-or-treaters. That’s not a good idea. Allergies to pet dander are common in children, and an allergic reaction could ruin a trick-or-treater’s night. Plus, a frightened child in costume doesn’t mix well with a pet not accustomed to seeing people in costume. There are too many variables involved for me to recommend allowing pets to participate in the nightlong parade of children in costumes.

If you have a very well-trained, mellow dog who will stay back several feet each time you answer the door until you ascertain that no children in the group are frightened of or allergic to dogs, go ahead and involve the pooch in the festivities. Otherwise, if you enjoy costuming your pet for the holiday, plan pet-friendly activities. Most pet stores have pet costume contests on Halloween. You could also head for a dog park or arrange a photo shoot with your pets.

Whatever you do this Halloween, make sure that you consider the safety of your pets and neighborhood trick-or-treaters first. After that, have fun!

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