By Denise Fleck
What is fun for us, is not always fun for our pets. Costumes distort human shapes making them scary. Loud noises make animals want to dart from the safety of their homes. Sweet treats for humans are potentially fatal to dogs and cats. Plan ahead. Look at this holiday from your pet’s point of view and practice these 5 Pet Safety Tips to ensure a Happy Howl-o-ween for all!
1) NO HOUDINI ACTS
Keep an eye on pets at all times, but especially when Trick or Treaters come to call. Loud noises and open doors allow for escapes. To play it safe, walk dogs BEFORE it gets dark, so that they can be back inside before the ghouls, goblins and super heroes take flight to your door! Once home, refer to Tip #5 below. If you’ll be ringing other doorbells chanting the famous rhyme, it would be wise for your pets to stay home. Many dogs get scared by costumed characters with shrieking voices and may dart into the path of cars or escape your grasp. Second only to the Fourth of July with the number of animals that end up at shelters, Halloween is a GRRReat time to check that ID Tags are legible and that your contact information is up-to-date in the microchip registry, so both can aid in reuniting you with your pet, should the worst happen.
2) CLOTHING (eh, COSTUMES) OPTIONAL
October is popular for pet costumes, and last year, almost 20% of humans who celebrated Halloween, also dressed up their pets! Unless your dog or cat is comfortable in a costume, clothing optional (aka their own furry birthday suit) may be best. A festive bandana could dress up your pooch as most pets don’t like masks covering their eyes or fabric flowing around their body. If, however, you feel your four-legged friend would be willing to “dress up,” make sure his costume isn’t adorned with beads or strings which could be swallowed! And also, be sure that any elastic bands keeping fabric up are not tight and restricting blood flow around a leg, paw or other body part. Also make sure it will be convenient for your fella or lady to answer nature’s call and be double-dog sure no accoutrement obstructs or injures vision. Finally, not because the other pets will make fun of them, but because it isn’t safe, never ever leave your pet unattended in a costume! Ease into the idea of a wardrobe, and “practice” for short periods, leading up to Halloween, to acclimate your pet to his costume and keep pet safety in mind.
3) AVOID THE KISS OF DEATH
Paper, cellophane, and foil candy wrappers can clog the intestines once inside your pet. Pups anxious for a sweet treat rarely take time to unwrap them! Chocolate contains a caffeine-like substance known as Theobromine, which is a cardiac stimulant as well as a diuretic – not only will it speed up your pet’s heart and respiration, it will pull fluids from his body, can cause seizures and result in death. Potential cat-astrophes and dog dangers must be kept well out of paws reach! If serving creepy treats is your style, beware that grapes or raisins, masquerading as “eyeballs,” can cause kidney failure should your dog consume them. Make sure pets can’t get hold of plastic toothpicks, that adorn festive cupcakes, or any adult beverages that might be on the menu. Make sure instead, that there are healthy treats for furry pals. Try these homemade doggy pumpkin treats! Your four-legged ghoul will be hooked and pawing for more!
4) PAWS OFF PUMPKINS
Although the cooked pulp of pumpkin can be a PAWSome treat, once that big orange squash becomes a Jack o’ Lantern, it may do your pet more harm than good, as candles placed inside can burn precious snouts and paws, or if turned over…start fires! Keep pumpkins, candles, and electric cords that make your Halloween inaccessible or uninviting to chew, and always supervise pets around decorations. Fake spider webs and spray string too, can be toxic or cause choking incidents. When you have a dog or cat, you have a furry toddler for life whom you must protect!
5) PARTY POOPERS WELCOMED
When the monsters begin to rally, confining pets to a quiet back bedroom is a smart move. Talk to your veterinarian ahead of time, in the event a calming aid or medication might be beneficial. A tired dog or cat though, is generally a good dog or cat, so don’t forget a nice walk (like mentioned in Tip #1) and plenty of playtime before festivities start, but then let your fur child retreat with pet-safe treats and toys of his own to have quiet time and sweet dreams while zombies walk the ‘hood. Occasionally peaking in, just to be sure, is an awesome Pet Mom or Dad thing to do!