Halloween, with its many enticements—scary movies, fun costumes, an excuse to eat candy, and pumpkin spice everything—is a favorite holiday for many people. However, the festivities can be frightening for your pet and put them in peril. Therefore, take steps to safeguard your four-legged friend as the ghouls, ghosts, and goblins invade your neighborhood searching for candy. Our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team asked Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to help them explain Halloween pet safety do’s and don’ts to protect your pet during the spooky season.
Dr. Jekyll says, “DO ensure your pet has proper identification.”
Juanita Hills Animal Hospital (JHAH): Many pets are upset by the excitement surrounding Halloween celebrations, and they may escape as they look for a quiet place to hide from the craziness. If they aren’t properly identified, you may never be reunited with your four-legged friend.
The best way to ensure your pet can be identified is to have them microchipped, which our veterinary professionals can easily take care of at your pet’s next wellness visit. Once the chip is in place, you need only to keep your contact information updated in the microchip registry. While the chip doesn’t provide your pet’s global positioning system (GPS) information, if they are turned into a shelter or veterinary office, their chip can be scanned to access your contact information. In addition to the microchip, your pet should wear a collar and identification tags that have your current contact information.
Mr. Hyde says, “DON’T let your pet roam on Halloween.”
JHAH: Strange creatures roaming your neighborhood, raucous crowds, and your neighbor’s excessive Halloween decorations may cause your frightened pet to run away. In addition, some people think terrorizing pets, especially black cats, is amusing on Halloween. Keep your pet inside to protect them from the Halloween hysterics. Tips include:
- Create a safe zone — Relegate your pet to an interior room in your house to help prevent their escape. Ensure they have all their essentials, and leave the television or music playing to dampen the outside noise.
- Notify guests — If you have guests, ensure they know your pet isn’t allowed outside so they don’t inadvertently let them escape.
Dr. Jekyll says, “DO dress your pet for success.”
JHAH: Everyone loves to see pets in cute costumes, but ensure your pet isn’t distressed or injured by following our recommendations, which include:
- Find an appropriate costume — Ensure the costume you choose fits your pet well and doesn’t inhibit their breathing or movement.
- Assess your pet’s response — If your pet panics when they are wearing the costume, they may not be a good candidate for the Halloween photograph session. A stressed pet isn’t worth a cute social media post.
- Remove extraneous parts — Remove any pieces that your pet could chew or swallow to prevent a gastrointestinal obstruction.
- Acclimate your pet — Try out your pet’s costume several days or weeks before Halloween, and let them gradually get used to wearing the outfit.
Mr. Hyde says, “DON’T let your pet eat the Halloween treats.”
JHAH: The Halloween candy bowl poses many dangers for your pet, and common foods served at ghoulish gatherings can also be problematic. Hazards include:
- Chocolate — What Halloween celebration would be complete without chocolate? However, the sweet treat contains theobromine and caffeine, which act as a central nervous stimulant in pets and cause signs including nervousness, excessive panting, diarrhea, and tremors.
- Xylitol — Many sugar-free candies and gum contain xylitol, which is beneficial for humans, but can cause severe hypoglycemia in pets, and lead to weakness, vomiting, seizures, and collapse.
- Raisins — While most children are sad to find raisins in their Halloween treat bag, don’t let them give them to your pet. Raisins and grapes contain an unidentified toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
- Alcohol — Many party goers enjoy an alcoholic beverage, but ensure your pet doesn’t drink from an unattended cup. Pets are extremely sensitive to alcohol, and signs include lethargy, incoordination, vomiting, and collapse.
Dr. Jekyll says, “DO keep your pet in mind when choosing Halloween decorations.”
JHAH: Pets are curious and will investigate any new addition to their environment, so keep this in mind when choosing your Halloween decorations. Potential hazards include:
- Candles — You may be excited to light your new pumpkin spice scented candle, but ensure you keep the flame out of your pet’s reach, because a stray paw or tail swipe can lead to a fire.
- Glow sticks — Glow sticks can easily be confused with chew toys. Fortunately, the fluid inside the glow stick isn’t toxic for pets, but the substance does taste foul and can irritate your pet’s mouth.
- Fake fog — This substance typically contains toxins that can harm your pet if inhaled.
- Novelty items — Small decorations, such as plastic spiders and glass eyeballs, can be ingested and become a gastrointestinal obstruction.
Mr. Hyde says, “DON’T let your pet get stressed on Halloween.”
JHAH: The constantly ringing doorbell, strangers in weird costumes, and loud revelers can cause your pet to be stressed and fearful. If your pet is anxiety-prone, consult our veterinary team about medication or a supplement that could help your pet during the Halloween festivities.
Following Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s advice will hopefully keep your pet out of trouble this Halloween. But, if your pet has anxiety issues, contact our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team, so we can determine if they are a good candidate for an anxiety relieving medication or supplement.