We start the season by decorating our homes with the creepy, crawly and sometimes noisy props for Halloween, than the fall themes for Thanksgiving, than the shiny, sparkly, singing items for Christmas and Hanukkah, than we use noisy poppers and fireworks to celebrate the new year, than out comes the flowers, chocolates and hearts for Valentine’s Day, and lastly the green beer, clovers and Irish food for Saint Patrick’s Day. All of these holidays can be dangerous for our pets if are not cautious and prepared.
Halloween is fun for people…we get to dress up and become someone else, feast on sweet things and have some good, scary fun with our friends and family. We may have a blast on Halloween, it is not so much a blast for our pets. We make them put funny yet sometimes constricting costumes on, we have tons of candy around that they cannot have, we decorate with scary, moving gadgets that freak them out, plus all those other people that are walking around in weird, creepy costumes. If we look at Halloween from our pet’s perspective, I bet we wouldn’t like it either.
But there are ways both you and your pets can have a fun, safe and not so scary Halloween.
Take your pets for a long walk prior to the festivities to tire them out but be sure to wrap up the walk before the trick-or-treaters come out. Set up a quiet area that they feel safe in, where they can escape to if needed. Sometimes black cats fall victim of pranks and mischief and can easily be frightened out of their normal territory by the unfamiliar site of strange people in costumes and the commotion of the holiday so it is best to secure cats in another room.
Pets may be spooked by people wearing costumes, and may try to run away or may become aggressive. Training and desensitization prior to the day would help but in any case, make sure the pet has an ID collar on, so if they do make a mad dash out the door, they have their ID. Make sure the ID tag is up-to-date for many animals that aren’t wearing an ID tag end up in shelters when they became separated from their families. According to the Humane Society, only about 2% of cats and 15% of dogs that come into shelters as strays are returned to their families. Strays found with proper ID are quickly returned to their families.
When it comes to dressing your pet up in a Halloween costume, if your pet puts up a fight, then it may be best not to put the costume on. Forcing the issue will stress your pet out and he could potentially nip at someone or something. If you are able to dress him up, make sure the costume isn’t annoying, unsafe or block his vision. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. It’s a good idea to try the costume on prior to the big night to make sure everything fits well and to see if your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior. Also, look for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that they could possibly choke on.
The bowl of candy is for the trick-or-treaters and not for your pets. Be sure to keep the tempting bowl out of their reach. Chocolate (contains theobromine) and artificially sweetened candies (contains xylitol) are dangerous if ingested. If they do eat some of this, call your vet or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.