Halloween can be lots of fun for everyone, not just the children. Just like any other times of revelry, the tradition of “trick or treating” with children wearing costumes going to neighborhood homes asking for candy or “treats” can be a hazardous time for your pet. Yes, indeed. So if you will, please take the time to consider the following five ways to keep your pet safe during Halloween.
1. Keep the candy and chocolates away from your pet. Chocolates, especially the dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats. It can cause them serious harm or death. Chocolate toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat and collapse in dogs. Some candy might contain an ingredient called xylitol, which is also toxic to dogs and cats. If you plan to give away candy and chocolates to “trick or treaters”, please make sure that your pet does not get their paws on them.
Keep their favorite treats handy. With all the candy, and other treats in abundance during Halloween night, it would be a good idea to have a supply of your pet’s favorite treats handy and available. Keeping them happy with their own treats is a good way to prevent them from being tempted to eat candy and chocolates that are bad for them. Make sure you have your favorite emergency vet’s number handy in case of accidental poisoning.
2. Keep the costumes pet-friendly and safe. If you plan to dress up your pet in a costume, do have a dress rehearsal. Try the costume on your pet before the event, to see if they like it. If they show signs of discomfort, chewing, or scratching at the costume, or other untoward behavior, these are hints that your pet does not like wearing the costume. Yes, pets can look so cute and adorable wearing some of the fanciest costumes, but when choosing a costume, please consider not just the cute factor, but the comfort and safety of your pet. Please make sure that it does not restrict your pet’s movement, or its breathing. Also, if you decide to dress up your pet in a costume, please do not leave it unattended. Watch out for accessories or costume parts that might be choking hazards or might entangle the pet, leading to suffocation or other injuries. Instead of a complicated costume, maybe opt for a simple bandanna instead.
3. Keep your pet’s anxiety level to a minimum. You know your pet better than anyone else and you know if strangers, children included, particularly if they are wearing strange costumes and maybe being loud, would bother them. If so, make sure that your pet is safely in a different room from where you will be receiving the “trick-or-treaters”. Constant ringing of the doorbell—if that’s a trigger for your pet’s barking or anxiety—would cause stress. In such a case, make the necessary arrangements to prevent undue stress and anxiety on your pet. If you are including your pet in your Halloween activities, make sure that they are always under your control and supervision. Please be sure that each of your guests are instructed to not be tempted to give your pets any form of candy or sugary “treat” because there can be dire consequences for your pets.
4. Keep your pet on a leash when out and about. While you want to make sure that your pet is safe, it is your responsibility to ensure that the children and other revelers are also safe from being bitten or otherwise harmed by your pet.
5. Keep your pet indoors on Halloween night. Because there may be a lot of candy, chocolates, wrappers and other debris that may be scattered on the ground or in your backyard, it would be safer to keep your pet indoors on Halloween night. With all the traffic, noise and everything going on during Halloween night, pets might get anxious and run away. Also, some mean spirited individuals might tend to steal away pets on Halloween night. If you haven’t yet, this would be a good time to get an identification (ID) pendant for your dog. Make sure the information on it is enough to be able to have your pet returned to you, in case it is lost and found. If you prefer, you can ask your vet to have a microchip ID implanted on your pet.
We all want to enjoy the Halloween tradition with our darling pets, and what better way to do it than by being prepared and informed. I wish you and yours a happy and safe Halloween! Trick or Treat!
Dr. Galarneau holds a PhD in Veterinary Medical Sciences. She resides in Tuscaloosa County.

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