There are many things that can go wrong on Halloween night if you have a cat or a dog: candy poisoning, eating of non-food objects, electrical shock, costume distress, anxiety, allergic reaction and escape from the house, to name several!
Most of us know that candy can be bad for our pets. The most common candy toxicity is chocolate – the darker the chocolate, the more poisonous it is to our animal friends. Sugar-free candies and gums can also contain xylitol which is very dangerous for animals. If your pet ransacks the trick-or-treat bag and binges on candy, he or she could get pancreatitis, a very painful, potentially fatal illness. Other decorative objects, such as pumpkins and corn stalks, are not toxic but could cause tummy upset (vomiting, diarrhea) or a blockage. Décor that features electrical cords can be very attractive to cats or other pets who enjoy playing with string-like objects. If chewed on, electrical cords may cause burns or even a shock. While Halloween decorations are out, keep a close eye on pets.
We love our animals and want to include them in the fun, but some animals just don’t want to join in! If you are planning to dress your pet in a costume, try it on before Halloween. Ensure that your pet doesn’t get upset, and make sure the costume doesn’t limit movement, hearing, ability to breathe or communicate with you (via barking or meowing). Most animals also don’t like their eyes or ears covered. If you notice folded-down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, a tucked tail or hunching over – your pet may be trying to tell you that he/she does not enjoy wearing a costume. Rarely, animals can suffer an allergic reaction to a costume’s fabric or the detergent in which it was washed – trying the costume on in advance could prevent a nasty surprise on Halloween night. Examine to make sure the costume has no small, dangling pieces that could be chewed off or choked on. Again, watch closely when any animal is wearing a costume.
Hand in hand with Halloween comes noises, smells, costumes, and trick-or-treaters that can be very overwhelming for some animals. The constant ringing of the doorbell, excited squeals of children and even loud noises on the street or at neighbors’ houses can be extremely anxiety-inducing for your pet. If your dog is nervous around strangers, barks at people at the door, or darts out of the house easily, he/she should be contained in a quiet, safe area of the house. To help distract your pet from noises outside, it might be helpful to play soft music, or turn on a television or a fan.
If your pet is prone to running off when it’s stressed, ensure that your pet(s) have ID tags or microchips. That way, if your animal escapes, he or she will have something to identify it so he can get back home more quickly.
Halloween can be a fun and safe holiday for the entire family if you just know what to watch out for. Remember to contact your veterinarian right away if you’re concerned about your pet. If your family vet is closed, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, in Oakdale and St. Paul, is open 24/7 to serve you and your pet!