As Halloween approaches, both children and adults look forward to the familiar rituals associated with ‘trick or treat’, including dressing up and indulging a sweet tooth. However, the very things that make Halloween so much fun for people can represent a health hazard to some pets and cause a lot of stress to others. You can minimize your pet’s stress and maximize your whole family’s enjoyment of this fun occasion by observing the following guidelines:
- Never leave your pet outside unattended:
- Dogs that are tied up can’t escape if they become frightened by the excitement of the occasion.
- Both dogs and cats may become the targets of mistreatment by pranksters. Since cats, especially black cats, have a historical association with Halloween rituals, it is a good idea to confine your cat to the house for several days prior to Halloween. Sadly, many black cats go missing at this time of year.
- Keep your pet away from the front door while you are handing out Halloween treats. Let your pet relax in his or her own quiet space, whether it is a room with a closed door or the safety of a crate or carrier.
- The increased number of boisterous visitors in strange or weird costumes may alarm your dog, who may conclude that his territory needs to be protected and become unexpectedly aggressive.
- Each time the door is opened there is a chance that your pet may slip outside. Ensure that your pet is wearing an identification tag in case this does happen.
- Make sure that any candles are safely out of harm’s way. Both dogs and cats may sniff or paw at unfamiliar objects, which can lead to injuries such as burns.
- Do not place bowls of candy or chocolate within reach of your pet. If your dog is a ‘scavenger’, consider making or purchasing special Halloween treats that are ‘pet friendly’.
- When your children return home with their loot, they should keep both the treats and their wrappers out of reach of your pets. Swallowed foil or other candy wrappers can cause serious health problems. Candy is very unhealthy for a pet and may cause vomiting or diarrhea. Chocolate is particularly toxic to pets, especially in large doses.
- If you are accompanying your children on their rounds, leave the family pet at home.
- If you choose to dress your pet in a costume be sure that your pet is clearly at ease with it. If your pet does submit to wearing a costume, avoid anything elastic that may constrict an airway or blood supply or otherwise cause skin irritation.
Remember that your pet does not understand what Halloween is all about. Be sympathetic to any fears and anxieties and offer him or her a quiet place of refuge for the evening. Don’t force your pet to participate in the festivities if there are any signs of distress.