When your best friend runs around on four legs, Halloween can be an especially scary time of year. From chocolate to costume malfunctions, knowing how best to deal with Halloween pet safety can ensure that any nightmares don’t become real — even if you live on Elm Street.
A lot of these Halloween pet safety tips are a witch’s brew of common sense. However, they can also be broken down into the basics of forbidden foods, stranger danger, and costume conundrums.
There are two basic types of trick-or-treat candy you need to be wary of as a pet owner: chocolate and anything containing xylitol.
The first step to ensuring your cat or dog’s safety is by securing where you keep candy for trick-or-treaters. Know the abilities of your pet to get their paws on tasty treats (is there a certain part of your kitchen they can jump up and access?) and do what is necessary to keep them away from the goodies — this might mean keeping them in a bedroom during trick-or-treating.
Of course, Halloween candy lasts a lot longer than the actual holiday, so there still is the possibility of your furry friend getting into trouble long after all the werewolves turned back into little boys and girls.
The type and amount of chocolate eaten by a dog will impact how dangerous an issue you have on your hands and whether it will be necessary to rush to the nearest 24-hour pet emergency room.
For the most part, white chocolate is mostly harmless. However, dark chocolates and milk chocolates contain theobromine, a caffeine-like substance that can be dangerous to cats and dogs.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, increased body temperature, rapid breathing, low blood pressure, and increased heart rate. More severe and advanced symptoms include seizures, cardiac failure, weakness, and comas.
The severity of the situation will not only depend on the type of chocolate but the size of your pet, as well as how much he or she consumed. A few loose M&Ms are not likely to cause serious problems, though contacting a pet emergency room to double-check is never a bad idea — better to be safe than sorry.
Though not nearly as popular a trick-or-treat option as candy bars, people still occasionally hand out chocolate covered raisins. If anyone in your household ends up with these tasty little bits, you’re better off replacing the candy with something less dangerous to your pets, as raisins are extremely toxic and can cause severe kidney damage.
At any time of the year — not just Halloween — if your dog eats raisins or grapes, it’s more than just a scary situation: it’s potentially deadly and calls for an immediate trip to the nearest pet emergency room.
The other major candy concern is anything that contains xylitol — most popularly found in sugar-free gum. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, xylitol is toxic to animals, including your dog and cat.
It turns out that even a small amount of xylitol can result in a sudden drop in blood sugar for your pet, leading to seizures and loss of coordination. Additionally, it can cause liver failure.
Stranger Danger and Car Collisions
Come Halloween night, there tends to be a lot of commotion. Depending on the temperament of your cat or dog, Halloween can be nearly as unpleasant as the Fourth of July.
If there is any possibility that a ghoulish trick-or-treater might trigger aggression or fear in your pet, keep your friend away from the holiday commotion. It’s essential you protect both your pet and trick-or-treaters.
Along these same lines, don’t leave your pet out on Halloween. Keep animals inside so that they don’t get scared or lost.
Even if you have a fun-loving pet who is eager to meet all your trick-or-treaters, you might still want to keep them in a separate room due to the possibility of them succumbing to the temptation of dashing outside when you have the door open. Even though many drivers are moving through neighborhoods more cautiously because there are children out and about for Halloween, there is always the danger that an excited pet might dart in front of a vehicle amidst all the excitement.
If your cat or dog is more of a get-into-the-holiday-spirit sort of friend, then get them a costume — just make sure it’s a pet-friendly costume.
You should also make sure your cat or dog actually likes the costume. For many pets — especially cats — the restriction of movement, hearing, and sight caused by a costume is simply too much. They may look darn cute, but their happiness should always be the priority.
If your dog or cat is new to adorable wearables, it’s best to go slowly, starting a month ahead of Halloween. In a perfect world, you would add clothes piece by piece and only leave them on your furry friend for a short period as they adjust to it. Lots of treats and praise will also go a long way toward getting your dog to love its new Santa’s little helpers costume.
If, at any time during this process, your dog or cat begins to act distressed or develops skin problems, stop with the shenanigans and contact your regular vet for advice.
Final Thoughts: Our Best Halloween Pet Safety Tips
The key to enjoying any holiday is ensuring that all your loved ones are safe. This Halloween, that means taking extra precautions so you don’t have to rush to the nearest 24-hour pet emergency room with your best friend’s life on the line.
Though it’s always fun to share life experiences with your pet, keeping them inside and away from trick-or-treaters is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety. By keeping an eye on harmful candies and ditching the chocolate covered raisins, you’ll lower the chances of needing to make that scary run to the vet.