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Ah, Halloween. A great time to dress up, have some fun, get scared, and eat tons of candy! Halloween can be a great time for us humans, but that might not be the case for all of our pets! It’s widely known that the 4th of July is a dangerous time for pets, but what about Halloween? Though I couldn’t find any stats online about pets going missing, being injured, or becoming ill on Halloween, I still believe it’s a fairly dangerous day for our beloved pets! With tons of noises, treats, and unfamiliar guests, there’s a whole myriad of things that could go wrong. So let’s get right into 7 tips to keep your dog safe on Halloween!
Keep the Candy Away
Halloween is one of the best times for us humans to pig out on some candy. I mean, there are deals like no other in October when it comes to sweet treats. But unsurprisingly, these treats shouldn’t be eaten by our furry friends! It’s best to keep the sweets out of reach. Out of reach may be on the kitchen counter, but if you have larger dogs or cats, it’s probably not safe there. I wouldn’t even put it on the fridge or on the very top of your countertops. Cats can be impressive climbers. Instead, the candy is probably safest in a cupboard or in a sealed container. Keep on reading to learn about three different ingredients that you should avoid this Halloween!
Its common knowledge for pet owners to understand that chocolate isn’t something your dog should ever eat. It’s probably not surprising to hear that it’s not something cats should eat either. But why is it so bad for our pets? According to Hill’s Pet, the toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Though theobromine is perfectly safe for humans to enjoy, it’s difficult for dogs and cats to digest. Theobromine digests much slower in dogs, which causes it to build up to toxic levels (Hill’s Pet). Chocolate poisoning can depend on the amount of theobromine consumed, and the size of your pet. Darker chocolates will have more theobromine than milk chocolate, so it’s something that needs to be understood if your pet ingests it. Symptoms of chocolate ingestion include an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting for smaller amounts. For larger amounts consumed, your pet may exhibit tremors, seizures, heart attack, or internal bleeding (Hill’s Pet). If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, you should contact your vet or Animal Poison Control hotline immediately at (888) 426-4435.
Chocolate isn’t the only harmful candy that can hurt your pets this Halloween. Any candy that contains a high amount of sugar , can be harmful to our pets. Although there’s short term and long term effects of sugar consumption, I’m only going to talk about the short term here. Sugar, especially in high amounts, can cause extreme tummy upset in your pets. “In the short term, a sugary treat can lead to an upset stomach,” says Ari Zabell, DVM DABVP. Zabell continues by stating, “A higher dose of sugar than our pets are used to can upset the balance of those micro-organisms and lead to diarrhea – sometimes explosive, sometimes bloody, and sometimes even with vomiting”. Cavities can be another undesirable effect of too much sugar consumption. Zabell explains that bacteria in our pet’s mouths use sugar to produce acids. In turn, those acids can cause cavities on our pet’s teeth. Although sugar, in some form, is in just about everything our animals eat we can minimize excess sugar by keeping the sweets out of reach this Halloween.
As far as candy goes, xylitol is another extremely dangerous item that could be found in your Halloween candy! Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can be deadly for our pets. While for humans, it can be a great low-calorie substitute for traditional sugar, that’s not the case for our pets. Ahna Brutlag, DVM explains “When non-primate species like dogs eat something containing xylitol, the xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, resulting in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas,” (source). With the sudden increase in insulin, blood sugar levels decrease, causing hypoglycemia, which is a life-threatening condition. According to Pet Health Network, many kinds of toothpaste, chewing gums, sugar-free candies, jellies, and some kinds of butter contain xylitol, among other items. Although your pet shouldn’t eat most of these things anyway, it’s especially important to read the ingredients if you are giving something new to your pet. Xylitol can cause serious damage to your pet fast, so if you suspect your dog ate something containing it, please contact the Animal Poison Control hotline immediately at (888) 426-4435.
Please be mindful of your candy stash to keep your dog safe on Halloween!
Test Out Halloween Costumes Ahead of Time
Halloween costumes for our cats and dogs can be super cute! Sometimes you find the cutest costume for your pet or you have the perfect set of matching costumes. But not all pets love them and they can get incredibly stressed out wearing them. I know there’s absolutely no way I could ever dress Jack up, but that’s okay! I don’t want to make him uncomfortable. If you’re not sure how your pet will react to a costume, you can always test it out before Halloween. If you have your pet try on the costume ahead of time, you’ll know if the costume fits or not, and you’ll have a better understanding of how they’ll react to it on Halloween. Here are a few stress indicators to look out for when trying on their costume:
- Pacing or shaking
- Whining or barking
- Drooling or licking excessively
- Unexpected pottying
If you notice any of these behaviors or others not on this list, that is abnormal for your pet, I would skip the costume! That perfect Instagram shot isn’t worth the harm to your pet. Hopefully, a costume trial run can keep your dog safe on Halloween!
Leave Them At Home
If you intend on venturing out on Halloween or you’re going to a Halloween Party, you might want to leave your pets at home! A new environment filled with loud noises, costumes, and decorations could be stressful for your pet. Even if you walk your normal route or you go to a house your pet frequents, it could be too much on Halloween. With all the excitement, you never know how your pet will react with new people. You also don’t know how new people will interact with your pet! Teasing your pet might seem funny to someone else, but it will cause them to be stressed out and they could lash out if unsupervised.
Or Keep Them on a Short Leash
If you’re absolutely positive your pet will be fine in a highly stimulating environment, keep them on a short leash, just to make sure! Even if your pet has amazing recall and doesn’t stray from your side, you never know what will happen. Pets can surprise you in new scenarios, so just keep them leashed. Even if you’re home and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, you should still leash them to prevent them from bolting out the door. They could potentially hurt themselves or the trick-or-treaters if they run out of your front door.
When it comes to leashes, it’s important to know that they are not all created equal. Stay away from a retractable leash if possible. These types of leashes can let your pets get too far away for your control. Retractable leashes are known to cause injuries, such as burns, cuts, and amputation to us humans. Your pets can also be injured. Your pets can sustain serious neck injuries from the “jerking” that retractable leashes can cause. Furthermore, these types of leashes tend to break! It’s best to keep your pet on a strong, normal leash that you can easily control them with incase they get out of hand. A leash is one of the best ways to keep your pet safe on Halloween!
Keep Them Calm
If you’re like me and know you’re dogs are going to be crazy on Halloween, you should do your best to keep them calm! Jack, our golden retriever, has more energy than any dog I’ve ever encountered, and he makes sure it’s known loud and clear. Odin, our Great Pyrenees, makes sure to adhere to his guard dog tendencies and protect the house with insistent, loud barking. Jack could easily knock down decorations, furniture, or hurt himself or someone else. Although I’m fairly certain Odin wouldn’t jump on anything/anyone or get into something he shouldn’t out of excitement, he does have a very deep and loud bark that could cause alarm to trick-or-treaters. Though these examples might not apply to every dog or other pet, it’s important to know the potential dangers of your dog becoming overly excited.
You can attempt to keep your pets calm and safe on Halloween with calming treats, or something prescribed by your vet if needed. You can also keep your pets in an area of the house where the excitement is minimized. Just make sure there’s nothing they can get into, break, or harm themselves. If excitement is unavoidable on Halloween, you could also bring them to a family member’s house! I know I will get a fair share of trick-or-treaters, even if I don’t plan for it, so I may bring our pups to my parents. They live somewhere that’s difficult for anyone to walk to, so they don’t get any visitors on Halloween! Whatever the case may be, you know your pet so you know how to keep them calm best and can keep them safe this Halloween!
It should go without saying that you should never intentionally scare your pet, especially for your own fun. That’s why you should avoid playing tricks on your pet this Halloween! There are tons of viral videos out there of people making their pets interact with robotic Halloween décor, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay! You can cause extreme stress to your pets by spooking them. Examples of stress indicators can be found above. A pet that isn’t in perfect health could have a seizure, heart attack, or some other harmful episode because of the scare as well.
Your pets don’t understand what’s going on what you scare them, with or without Halloween props. Scaring them may also lead to some negative psychological effects. They may not even trust you or things that are similar to the device you scared them with. Please just don’t scare them! It’s not funny, no matter how many videos online there are. Keep your pets safe this Halloween by not spooking them!
Make Sure They Have Tags
Finally, make sure your pets have ID tags on them! It’s also important to double-check and make sure your pet’s tags are up to date! New phone, new number? Change your tags! According to American Human, “Each year, approximately 10 million pets are lost in the United States, and millions of those end up in the nation’s animal shelters. Tragically, only 15 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats in shelters without ID tags or microchips are reunited with their owners.” 15 and 2 percent are crazy low numbers. Rabies and dog registration tags can also be used to locate pet owners, so don’t overlook them. American Human also suggests getting tags for your indoor pets as well. This is because many strays are indoor animals that escaped somehow. I can’t imagine losing a pet and not having a way for them to be returned to me and I’m sure you feel the same. You never know what may happen on Halloween so you should double-check your pets’ tags to keep them safe and return them home.
Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!
I expect this post serves as an eye-opener for many of you! Quite honestly, I didn’t think of many of these concerns until I started jotting them down for our blog. I hope you enjoyed 7 tips for keeping your pets safe this Halloween. Think we missed something? Comment or let us know on our Contact page!