It’s almost that time of year when pet owners pull out the treat bag and Fido’s pumpkin costume, get the camera ready, and begin the enthusiastic “look at me” dance—all to get that perfect #HappyHowl-o-ween shot. Costume or not, Halloween can be scary—and dangerous—for pets. Driftwood Animal Hospital has five tips to keep your pets safe this Halloween.
#1: Ensure your pet’s costume is safe
Nothing says Halloween like a dachshund dressed as a hotdog. Pet costumes can be fun, as long as your pet feels comfortable. (Unfortunately, we can’t help with any costume-related embarrassment your pet may suffer.) Your pet’s costume should be loose, and allow for movement without interfering with their ability to see or breathe. When dressing your pet, reward them for being a good sport with praise and treats. Ensure the outfit has no small pieces that could be a choking hazard, and always supervise your pet when they are in costume.
And, yes, your pet may look adorable all dressed up, but skip the costume if they appear unhappy or stressed, or opt for a simple, but festive, bandana.
#2: Keep your pet home
You may be tempted to take your pet trick-or-treating, but the commotion of costumed strangers can be scary, so leave your pet safely at home. When passing out candy, keep your pet secure inside the house, and never leave them unattended in the yard. Before the big night, ensure your pet is microchipped, and that the contact information is registered with the data company, displayed on their collar, and is up-to-date. Assign someone in your family to be on pet patrol, which may mean keeping your pet on a leash or in a separate room, so they don’t slip out the front door amid the trick-or-treat chaos.
#3: Help your pet stay calm
Before the trick-or-treating begins, set up a calm, quiet space for your pet. Turn on music or television for background noise, and provide plenty of engaging toys to distract your pet from the Halloween hustle and bustle. For a highly anxious pet, contact your veterinarian, to determine if anti-anxiety medication would be beneficial.
#4: Hide Halloween candy from your pet
Candy—especially chocolate, raisins, and xylitol sweetener—can harm your pet. To avoid a Halloween trip to the emergency veterinarian, keep treats stashed up high, and remind young children not to share food with your pet. Keep the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline number handy, and call your veterinarian or the helpline immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance.
#5: Use pet-friendly decorations
Spooky decorations add to the Halloween ambiance, but be aware of the following hidden pet dangers:
- Pumpkins — While pumpkin can be good in small qualities, too much can cause digestive issues for your pet.
- Jack-o’-lanterns — Candle-lit jack-o’-lanterns can easily burn or singe curious pets, or cause a fire. Keep jack-o’-lanterns up high or outside, so your pet does not accidentally knock them over.
- Glow sticks — The liquid inside most glows ticks is non-toxic, but can make your pet uncomfortable, and cause drooling and vomiting. If glow sticks are a part of your Halloween decor, keep them away from your pet, and dispose of them carefully.
- Cords and battery-powered decorations — Some decorations need to be plugged in, meaning that extra cords lying around may look like fun for a playful pet, who could suffer serious burns and electrical shock if they mistake a cord for a chew toy. To keep your pet safe, unplug decorations when not in use. Keep battery-powered decorations away from your pet, too—chewing open a battery can cause chemical burns, or a gastrointestinal blockage, if swallowed.
Every holiday is more fun with your pet, and some simple planning can help ensure they also have fun, while staying happy, comfortable, and safe. However, if all the celebrations make your pet fearful, contact Driftwood Animal Hospital to have them microchipped, or to see whether anti-anxiety medication would be appropriate. Have a safe and Happy Howl-o-ween!