I can’t believe it’s Halloween already – how did this year fly by so fast without my permission? The months whizz by so ridiculously fast these days……
But anyway, as the resident, blogging veterinarian, I feel compelled to remind you all to keep an eye on those pets of yours this weekend – we all love the holiday festivities, and the fun that goes along with Halloween, and it’s becoming more and more common for our pets to be dragged into the fun too. So I thought I’d share a post that I wrote for my freelance writing site, sharing some tips on keeping your pets safe at this time.
And special thanks to my cat, Tiddles, for “allowing” me to dress her up for the occasion! No cats were harmed in the taking of this photograph……
Treats To Avoid
- Chocolate: Whether your dog has a penchant for raiding the bags of treats, or you have a penchant for feeding them to him – beware! Chocolate can be toxic to your dog, and eating too much can result in anything from vomiting and diarrhea to fatality. Thankfully fatalities are uncommon because owners are becoming increasingly aware that chocolate can poison their dog, but nevertheless, it pays to be extra-vigilant this time of year.
- Raisins and Grapes: Many owners mistakenly feed these to their dog, thinking of them as a healthy alternative to chocolates. These too, however, can be poisonous to cats and dogs even in small doses, so should be avoided at all costs. They can cause kidney damage, and can also lead to fatalities. So beware those cute little boxes of raisins that kids leave around the house.
- Xylitol: Maybe you’ve never heard of this compound, but more than likely you’ve ingested it!. Xylitol is a commonly used artificial sweetener that is often found in sugar-free chewing gum, as well as many other seemingly “healthy” low-calorie food products. Your Halloween candy bag is likely to contain something sweetened with xylitol.
- High Sugar/High Salt/High Fat/High Calorie Treats: It’s not uncommon for us to over-indulge during the holidays, and this privilege is often extended to our pets! Avoid the urge to splurge though – obesity is the number one health problem in US pets, so don’t be tempted to overdo things with your pet with respect to high calorie foods, or even just excessive amounts of food. High fat foods in particular can also lead to problems such as pancreatitis. So choose be health-conscious on behalf of your pet!
Additional Safety Tips
- Escaped Pets: If your cat or dog just loves to escape whenever the door is opened, Halloween is a particularly important time to be vigilant about this. If necessary, confine your pet to one room while the festivities are ongoing. And if you’re outdoors with your pet, don’t forget to keep him safe by taking him on a leash. This is a good time to ensure that his identity tag is up to date too. Just in case he does a disappearing act. The best advice though, is to keep your pet at home, safe and sound, during the witching hours!
- Costume Issues: Although your pet might look cute dressed as Yoda, think twice before you send him outdoors in his new outfit! I’d advise not to dress up pets that are anxious, or even those who appear to be anxious in their new outfit. And avoid sending him outside in the costume. If you absolutely can’t resist the neighbors seeing him dressed-up though, be sure to accompany him. Be sure also that his costume doesn’t restrict his movement – make sure it’s not too long, too tight, and that nothing is covering his eyes. Long dangling threads or cords can also cause your pet to become entangled, so these should definitely be avoided. And don’t forget that your pet can easily be frightened by kids (or you!) in costume, so be gentle with him! If he seems anxious, keep him away from kids – you don’t want anyone getting bitten. Halloween bites are very common when pets become scared and anxious.
- Electrical Cords: There are decorations galore this time of year, so take care if you’ve acquired any with electrical cords – in addition to posing a risk of entanglement if they’re too long, many pets love to chew through cords. Take precautions to keep pets away from such decorations, and certainly make sure that all electrical cords are stowed away.
- Candles and All Types of Naked Flames: As festive as those Halloween candles or Jack-o-Lanterns can be, they’re an accident waiting to happen when it comes to curious pets. If you must have them on display for Halloween, be sure to keep them in a room that your pet cannot access. The last thing you need is an injured pet, or even a fire.
These are just a handful of tips to help your pet have a safe Halloween. Above all, remember to avoid giving your treats to your pet – that little Hershey’s kiss might be fine if your Great Dane gets his paws on it, but it could be harmful to your tiny Chihuahua. The Pet Poison Hotline reports that the average cost of treating a pet with chocolate poisoning is almost $1000. They also report that Halloween is the most dangerous time for pets, with their calls apparently increasing by 12% at this time of year.
If you are in any doubt at all about your pet’s health over the Halloween festivities, call your veterinarian immediately for advice. And if you are concerned that your pet may have eaten something potentially harmful, you can always contact the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center on 888-426-4435, or the Pet Poison Helpline on 800-213-6680.