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With the arrival of fall, countless children (and adults!) begin looking forward to Halloween. The October holiday is all about fun — dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, putting up spooky décor, and, of course, going trick or treating. Pets, however, don’t always see it this way. It can be a stressful event for them, full of unusual sights and sounds. Between candy, frequent visitors at the front door, and tempting décor, it’s also full of potential dangers. Pet parents must be extra vigilant to avoid accidents and ensure pet safety on Halloween.
While keeping pets safe is always a top pet parent priority, extra precautions are crucial on Halloween. Fortunately, a few Halloween pet safety tips can help pet parents protect their animals and enjoy the festive holiday.
In preparation for trick-or-treaters, many people stock up on Halloween candy. The packages may sit tucked away on a high shelf in a cabinet or pantry after purchase, but they typically come out into the open come Halloween night. To make handing out candy easier, many people fill an open bowl or bucket and keep it near the front door.
An unattended bowl of sweets can be a strong temptation for curious cats and dogs, but consuming any amount of candy is bad for them. In addition to unnecessary sugar, many candies contain toxic ingredients, including chocolate, macadamia nuts, and xylitol. Candy wrappers can present potential hazards, too.
If pet parents plan to hand out candy, they should keep the bowl or bag in a location inaccessible to pets between visitors. While they might have to take a few extra steps to retrieve the candy each time, making sure their cats or dogs can’t get it is critical for ensuring Halloween safety for pets. If they suspect their pet ate any Halloween candy, they should contact their veterinarian, an online vet, or the pet poison hotline immediately.
Jack-o’-lanterns are a Halloween staple that pose a few risks to pets. Those with lit candles inside can be particularly dangerous, as a pet could accidentally knock them over and start a fire or singe their feet or fur. If pet parents plan to carve pumpkins and place candles inside, they should display them where their pets won’t be able to reach them.
Even if pet parents decide to display carved pumpkins without candles or (decorate their home with whole pumpkins), they should still exercise caution. Pumpkin is generally safe for cats and dogs in small quantities, but ingesting the rind can lead to an upset stomach or intestinal blockage. A molding or rotting gourd can also cause stomach issues.
The main event of Halloween for many families is trick-or-treating. For lots of pet parents, that means there’s frequent knocking on the front door. While some dogs remain calm, many will bark to alert their pet parents. They may get excited and run to the front door or try to push past pet parents to greet the visitors. Cats may dart through an open door if they get scared.
To avoid an escape, pet parents should make sure their pets are under control each time they answer the door. They might even consider confining their pets to another room during trick-or-treating hours, especially if they notice any signs of stress or anxiety.
Note: Even the most well-behaved animals can become unpredictable and run off in fear. Pet parents should check and update the contact information on their pet’s microchip, just in case.
Halloween décor, by design, is attractive. It’s shiny, flowy, and made to grab attention. The problem is that it’s not only eye-catching to people; it can also capture the interest of curious pets. But they don’t just look. Pets are more likely to play with and chew on decorations.
Ribbons, string, fake spiderwebs, and other materials can create blockages in the intestinal tract if ingested. Gnawing on electrical cords could result in getting shocked. Pet parents may want to avoid potentially hazardous decorations indoors, especially if they can’t keep them out of their pets’ reach, and monitor pets closely around outdoor decorations.
Glow sticks can be a great way to keep a child safer while out trick-or-treating as they increase their visibility as the sun begins to set. To pets, however, they often look like chew toys. While the ingredients inside are generally nontoxic, they can cause irritation in and around the mouth and excessive drooling if a cat or dog eats them.
Lots of pet parents love dressing their dogs (and cats!) in Halloween costumes, and they have no shortage of options. However, pet costumes aren’t always pet-safe. They may contain beads, buttons, ribbons, and other loose components that can become choking hazards or cause a blockage. Others are restrictive, impair vision, or increase the risk of overheating.
That doesn’t mean pet parents shouldn’t dress up their pets for the occasion. They should, however, take care when shopping. The ideal costume is comfortable, unrestrictive, and has no dangling parts. Another important pet Halloween safety tip to keep in mind is that pet parents should never leave their cats or dogs unattended while they’re wearing clothing.
For some pets, all the excitement on Halloween is too much. Others may not mind but could still tire of it after a while. Pet parents can be proactive and establish a calm, safe space in their home where their pets can get away from the noise and chaotic activity. The area should have comfortable bedding, a water bowl, and a few favorite toys. Pet parents may also consider setting up a sound machine or putting on some relaxing music.
Halloween might be a fun holiday for people, but it can be dangerous and distressing for pets. By implementing these pet safety tips for Halloween, pet parents can help make the occasion more enjoyable for their pets and themselves.
For all pet parent needs this Halloween (and every other day), Fuzzy is here to help. Pet parents can reach out to Fuzzy 24/7 for additional Halloween tips for pets or to address any questions or concerns they might have throughout the night. With Fuzzy’s team of professional vets by their side, pet parents can help ensure their pets have a safe, enjoyable spooky holiday.