Halloween is one of the most fun holidays of the year for adults and children alike. From dressing up in costumes to eating tasty treats and watching spooky movies, there's so much about Halloween to love.
For pets, however, Halloween is full of strange sounds, scary sights, and hazards that can be dangerous for your furry friends. Read on to learn 7 safety tips to make this Howl-o-ween safe and fun for your pets.
1. Keep Halloween Candy and Treats Out of Reach
Before it's time for the trick-or-treaters, make sure you keep Halloween candy and treats in a cabinet or on a shelf out of reach from your pets.
Candy is full of toxic ingredients, especially chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which if ingested, can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and racing heart rate. In extreme cases, chocolate toxicity can also lead to seizures and heart failure.
Sugar-free candies can also be dangerous for your pets. Xylitol, a popular artificial sweetener, can be deadly to pets because of the sudden drop in blood sugar that it causes.
If ingested, your pet may experience hypoglycemia, seizures, or collapse, and you need to take them to the emergency vet immediately.
When you've finished eating your Halloween candy, you should also make sure the candy wrappers are properly disposed of. Foil and cellophane wrappers can irritate your pet's gastrointestinal tract, as well as become lodged in their throat.
2. Create a Safe Space for Your Pet
Halloween, while fun for humans, is full of scary sights and sounds that can cause anxiety for your pet. From strangers constantly coming to the door to people in costumes, the holiday can be too much for some pets to handle.
If Halloween causes your pet stress, it's important to create a space away from the excitement for them to relax.
Make sure the space is quiet to reduce your pet's stress. If you don't have a room far enough away from where the action is, consider putting on music or the TV to help drown out the sounds.
The room should also be secure to prevent your pet from escaping if they get too distressed.
3. Practice with Your Costume Before Halloween
Dressing up is one of the best parts of Halloween, but it can be stressful for your pet. Scary masks and makeup can transform you into someone that your pet doesn't recognize, and it can take time for them to warm up to your costume.
Before Halloween, spend time around your home wearing your costume to help your pet get used to it. Wait for your pet to approach you in costume, then reward them with treats to build positive associations.
4. Place Halloween Decorations Safely Away from Pets
Many Halloween decorations present dangers for your furry friend. Lit candles create fire hazards if in reach of your pets, and electrical decorations can also be hazardous if your pet chews on the power cords.
Your pet can get stuck in fake cobwebs, and small Halloween decorations can also pose a choking hazard. Supervise your pet around Halloween decorations at all times, and choose your decorations carefully.
Decorating can also be stressful for pets, especially cats, because it drastically changes their environment. Start decorating well before Halloween, and make changes slowly to help your pet adjust to their new surroundings.
5. Update Your Pet's Microchip and ID
With trick-or-treaters coming to the door, you'll need to open the door many times throughout the night. This presents an opportunity for your pet to slip outside, especially if they're stressed by the strange sights and sounds.
If the worst happens and your pet manages to escape, a microchip is the best way to be reunited with them, since dogs are 2.4 times more likely to be safely reunited with their families if microchipped. Cats have even better changes for a happy reunion, being 21.4 times more likely to get brought home.
Before Halloween, make an appointment with your local vet to get your pet microchipped. If your pet already has a microchip, make sure that the information is up to date. Adding ID tags with up-to-date information also adds an extra layer of security in case your pet goes missing.
6. Make Sure Pet Costumes Fit Properly
Dressing up your pet for Halloween is a fun way to include them in the holiday festivities, but costumes can also present hazards for your pet.
Make sure that any costume you put on your pet fits properly. The outfit should never restrict your pet's movements or prevent them from seeing, breathing, or eating normally.
Your pet should feel comfortable performing normal behaviors, like running and playing, while wearing the costume, but it shouldn't be loose enough to cause them to trip.
Your pet's costume should also have no small pieces that can be chewed off, like loose strings and buttons. These can get lodged in your pet's esophagus, causing a choking hazard.
If your pet ever appears stressed or uncomfortable in their costume, remove the outfit immediately. Not every animal will enjoy dressing up – and that's okay. Instead, you could opt for a festive collar or bandana.
7. Keep Your Pet Safe in the Dark
Halloween takes place in the midst of fall, when the days are shorter. If you take your pet with you to go trick-or-treating or to a Halloween party, you'll likely be walking around your neighborhood in the dark.
To keep both you and your pet safe, it's important to make sure you're both easily visible in the darkness. Consider a reflective or light-up vest, leash, and collar for your pet, so oncoming drivers can easily see them.
You should also avoid walking with headphones in the dark, so you can be alert of your surroundings. Not only can oncoming traffic be dangerous, but some wild animals are more active at night, especially during the fall as they prepare for hibernation.
Have a Safe, Fun Halloween with Your Pets
Halloween is a fun, spooky celebration for people (and pets) of all ages. With proper supervision and your pet's safety in mind, you can help them enjoy the festivities right along with you. Have fun this Howl-O-Ween!
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