As Halloween nears closer we can see the growing excitement in the neighbourhood kids (and some adults 😛 ), but have we stopped to think about what this day is like for our pets? For those that take part in dressing up and Trick-O-Treating, you know it is a process. Usually it is a race home from work to quickly make dinner (or order pizza if you are my family) and get the kids ready for their outing. This in itself is already a change in routine, which is the first thing that tips off our pet. A change in routine can cause some pets to become stressed.
Then imagine the stress involved for those dogs that dislike the doorbell. Not only has your family up and changed routine, but now the doorbell is ringing every few minutes (or knocking on the door). When the door is opened up there are people dressed in strange costumes. While some dogs may not notice, or may enjoy the extra visits, others can become extremely stressed during this. Although you may not be able to avoid the stress altogether, however you can take some steps to help minimize it.
The first step is to make sure your pets are kept indoors (outdoor cats especially), to avoid any risk of animal cruelty tonight. Many adoption groups avoid adopting out black cats around this time for that reason. If you are taking your dog out Trick-O-Treating with you, be sure to keep them on a leash at all times. It is also a good idea to include reflective material on your pet’s collar, in case they should get loose. If your pet is especially nervous with visitors it is best to keep them in a quieter place away from the action. A new toy or favourite treat may help to distract them from the commotion. If you dog gets anxious when the door bell rings, place a sign over the door bell indicating it is out of order. Visitors will get the message and knock accordingly.
Common Halloween Hazards to Avoid
When we think of Halloween hazards for pets, candy is the one that comes to most people’s minds. Generally, most people know of the dangers with chocolate ingestion and pets, but other treats can contain hazardous ingredients for your pets.
Chocolate contains a substance called Theobromine, which is toxic to both dogs and cats. As little as 1oz could potentially cause health problems in your pet. Some of the potential symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, increase heart rates, seizures and even death.
Candies, gum or sweets can contain a ingredient called xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is commonly found in sugar-free gums, candies, mouthwash, toothpaste, and baked goods (amongst other things). When ingested by dogs it causes a rapid release of insulin in the body, which leads to low blood sugars. Low blood sugars can be very dangerous for an animal. Symptoms you may see can include vomiting, loss of co-ordination, seizures or liver failure. If you pet has ingested any products containing xylitol or chocolate, it is best to contact your veterinary clinic immediately to ensure it is not a toxic level.
Packaging on the treats can also serve as a potential danger. Ingestion of plastics, such as those on lollipops or wrappers can potentially lead to intestinal obstruction or puncture. Be sure to tell kids to pick up after enjoying some treats to ensure your night ends on a good note.
Other things to keep in mind for pets & Halloween are fire danger with Jack-O’-Lanterns. If you are keeping jack-o-lanterns indoors, be sure to keep them up out of reach of you pets. A tail wagging or curious/frightened cat could result in burns or a fire.
Pet Costumes are often viewed as a fun way to have your pet partake in the day. This may be true, however you should be aware that some pets may become very stressed if they are not used to clothing. Your pet may try to chew at the costume or ingest pieces that may lead to intestinal obstruction. A pet could also become entangled on furniture, trees, fences etc, thus you should never leave a pet in costume unattended. Certain costumes may contain elastic bands that can become tight and uncomfortable if not monitored.
If we know the risks and play it safe we can have a safe & happy Halloween with our family.