Fall is my favorite time of year, the leaves are turning, the weather is cool but not cold, it’s football season, and of course, it’s Halloween time! While I love this time of year, it’s the unofficial start of pet hazard season. We see a ton of emergencies as a result of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s EVERY YEAR. There are a number of things that we love, but your pets hate or hate your pet, so here’s a quick guide to keeping your dogs, cats, and other pets happy and healthy this Halloween.

Treats: This one is pretty easy; don’t give ANY candy to dogs. Chocolate is a well-known toxin, but there are also artificial sweeteners. Sugar free treats have them, and they are extremely toxic to pets (they cause the equivalent of a diabetic crash in pets, and even a small amount can kill (NO sugar-free food for pets!). In addition to the toxicity issue, there are a lot of choking and intestinal blockage issues that candy can cause. If your pet acts funny (lethargic, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, excessive salivation, etc.), there is a chance that they’ve gotten into something and you should immediately call your vet, never wait and see with these symptoms. If you must sneak your pet a treat, use their food or pet treats to avoid potential issues.

Decorations: You may think that they look good on your walls, but your pets may think that it would look better on the ground and being chewed. There are strings, cords, webs, glowing things, noise makers, and scented things. ALL of these things may entice you pets to take a bite, and nothing good can come of it. For the most part, these are choking and obstruction hazards (coughing, vomiting, diarrhea), but we have seen chemical burns and toxicity from some fragrances, so if your pet shows signs of choking, poisoning (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, etc.) or has a rash and smells like pumpkin spice, call your vet. Light strings or lit Jack-O-Lanterns also pose shock or burn hazards. Keep them all out of reach!

Other People: Halloween is spooky for you, and you know what’s happening. Imagine if ghosts and goblins were approaching your house and you DIDN’T know what Halloween was. This can add up to stress, and a stressed pet is unpredictable. This can lead to fear aggression, bites, or at least an unhappy time for your pet. Therefore, you need to do anything in your power to keep your pets calm and isolated from any funny business. It’s similar to the 4th of July blog that our technician Jessica wrote, isolate and proactively calm your pets by giving them a safe space Music, pheromone sprays, hiding places, and an old shirt can make the difference between a calm evening and a stressful one. Beyond the harmless fun, there have also been unfortunate abuse stories in the past years. Pranksters or worse sometimes think that torturing or scaring pets is fun, and it is a good night to just keep your animals inside and leashed if you go outside.

YOU: I know that you think it’s fun, but if your pet isn’t OK with a costume, then it’s not going to end well. There are all kinds of potential issues with pet costumes like overheating, allergic reaction, choking/obstruction, or tangling. If you decide to dress your pet, read their body language. If they act funny (stiff, panting, not social), then maybe it’s a good night for a festive bandana rather than a full body hotdog costume. Halloween is also a common time for lost animals (frequently opening door, strangers, spooky sounds, etc.). Therefore, it’s important to have precautions in place. An ID tag with your name and phone number, a rabies tag, and a microchip are essential if your dog will be or might end up outside.

So how do we avoid these death traps and still have a fun holiday? A little common sense can go a long way. Keep decorations out of reach, keep your pet contained away from the front door, give them a safe space, and read their signals. If anything seems like it could go funny when you are paying attention, imagine what will happen if you are NOT paying attention. It’s a good night to keep them inside, and make sure that they are always wearing identification and get them a microchip. If you have any questions, give us a call and we can help with some Halloween guidance.