Halloween safety for your pet, peace of mind for you

Halloween safety for your pet, peace of mind for you
Some pets are hams and like the costume idea, others don't. If you dress your pet for the occasion, do not leave him unattended.

There's no question that Halloween night when all the trick or treaters are out is a particularly stressful time for pets. The doorbell is ringing, kids are squealing, and there is a general commotion that your pets aren't generally used to.

Here are 10 top safey tips so you and your pets have a fun evening:

  • Keep the candy out of reach. Chocolate is poisonous to pets, and very tempting--especially if you have a counter surfer in the house. "Sugar free" candies containing Xylitol are also hazardous to your pet's health. Foil wrappers can cause digestive problems.
  • Decorations should be hung out of reach, especially from puppies and kittens who see everything as a toy to bat around and chew on.
  • Pumpkin and other gourds, as well as decorative corn seem relatively "safe," but ingesting them will upset your pet's stomach. If you're doing some fun "haunted house" things, remember, grapes are also poisonous to dogs. While cats don't have the same reaction to pumpkin, like any food, too much of something will cause problems.
  • Be sure your carved pumpkins are "pet proofed" as the dancing flame of the candle is particularly enticing to kittens and pumpkins can easily be knocked over by pets, especially large dogs with large tails (giant breed owners, you know what I'm talking about). For your indoor Jack O' Lanterns, use battery operated lights to be safe.
  • It's best to leave the family dog at home rather than taking him trick or treating. Even the most mild-mannered dog's flight or fight instinct kicks in when faced with a strange looking alien or flapping costume.
  • If you dress your pet up for the occasion, please don't do so against your pet's will. As they bite and tear to remove a costume, they can ingest pieces that will not digest or create a blockage as they move through the digestive tract.
  • If your dog is a real ham and takes to the costume idea, do not leave her unattended. It is relatively easy for your dog to become entangled in costume parts that can strangle or suffocate. Check the costume to be sure there aren't parts that can come off and cause problems. For cats, it's best to skip the costume idea for the evening.
  • Put cats in a room they will be comfortable and close the door so that you do not risk them darting out the front door when you open it for trick or treaters; likewise, keep your dog where you do not risk him darting out the door or coming in contact with your eerily dressed guests. Do not leave your pet outside unattended as Halloween pranks can be particularly cruel to animals and passing trick or treaters may think it fun to share their candy not knowing the fatal result.
  • If you have a black cat, it is advised to keep your cat indoors. It is unfortunate that at this time of year, black cats suffer more than others whether from those who feel they have to torture them to have fun or those who engage in black arts rituals.
  • For a party in your home, be sure Fluffy and Fido are safe from your guests. They will be wearing costumes that can frighten even the most social of dogs who will not recognize George from next door under that gorilla mask. Visit them during the evening in the room you have them separted in so that they can feel part of the family, and you might even want to pick up special doggie treats to give them.

Last, but definitely not least, check to be sure your pet's collar is on securely and that the ID and rabies tags are securely attached. While it's too late today to get your pet microchipped, this is a good time to think about calling your vet and setting up the appointment.

If your pet should get into the candy or pumpkins, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. In Wichita, the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital can be reached at 316-262-5321.

Have a safe and happy Halloween with all of your family members.