Halloween is fast approaching and people are running out of time to make sure their costume is perfect and the decorations are ready to go.

One thing people should not forget to do is ensure their pets are safe and sound. Dangers abound around Halloween night for dogs and cats, but a few simple precautions can ensure pets make it through the period unscathed.

Pets ingesting candy is one of the top dangers, said Dr. Hector Carbonell of the East Plano Animal Hospital. “When pets ingest baker’s chocolate it makes their nervous system overactive and the pets seem drunk,” Carbonell said. “Most of the chocolate ingestion that I see is milk chocolate such as M&Ms, which causes gastrointestinal problems and vomiting. Remember, the smaller the dog, the easier it is for them to ingest a toxic dose.”

Carbonell said the wrappers surrounding the candy can be just as dangerous as the candy itself. Ingesting foil and plastic can cause pets the experience diarrhea and experience discomfort. He said if people suspect their pets ingested candy, they should call their veterinarian or a 24-hour emergency animal clinic.

Candy is not the only food that is harmful to pets. Carbonell said as more people replace chocolate with raisins and other healthy food items, the dangers don’t go away. He said pets can experience kidney failure if they ingest raisins, and experience gastrointestinal problems when they ingest food that is high in sugar or fat.

The dangers don’t stop with food, as the costumes that many people dress their pets in can also prove dangerous.

“Even though it looks cute, we tell people to resist the urge to put their pets in a costume,” said Debbie New of the Plano Animal Shelter. “People also need to be sure their pets don’t get tangled up in Halloween decorations, or come into contact with jack-o-lanterns filled with candles.”

Both Carbonell and New suggest keeping cats inside this weekend. Each year there are reports of people stealing and harming cats, especially black cats that are common in Halloween lore and superstition.

New said she hasn’t noticed an increase in people wanting to adopt black cats around the Halloween, but said she knows other shelters which don’t allow people to adopt cats during October. The reasons range from the fear that the owners may either be simply adopting the cat for a Halloween party and then will let the cat go, or possibly having more sinister reasons for adopting.

Even though cats may be in more physical danger, the experts said dogs should also be kept in side. “I wouldn’t let the family dog accompany the child on trick or treating,” New said. “They could get scared or spooked by other people wearing costumes and the children may not be strong enough to keep a hold of the leash.”

Carbonell said owners should not feel bad about putting their pets in crates and kennels to keep them safe. “A lot of dogs are trained to go to a kennel, so it might be a good idea to go ahead and kennel,” he said. “Nervous dogs need to be kenneled and put in another room if they are around kids who are boisterous. Also, there is always chance they can slip out the front door and run off when it is opened for children.”

New said even with the dangers pets can face, there is no need to stress out during a time that is supposed to be fun. “Basically, by making sure they are wearing their collar and tags and keeping them inside, you and your pets can have a fun and safe Halloween.”

  • Don’t let dogs or cats ingest human food.  Chocolate can cause pets to have gastrointestinal problems and overactive nervous systems, while raisins can cause kidney failure.
  • Be cautious if dressing pets up in Halloween costumes.  Pets that are not used to being dressed up may chew on or swallow parts of their costume, which can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
  • Allowing children to walk the dog while trick-or-treating can be dangerous if the children are not strong enough to keep a spooked dog from ripping the leash out of their hands.  Many things such as loud children and wild costumes can spook dogs.
  • Keep pets inside the house and put them in their kennels if they are prone to acting nervous around boisterous children
  • Make sure dogs and cats are wearing their collar and tags in case they get out of the house.  This will ensure they can be rightfully returned to their owners.

Source: Bill Conrad, bconrad@acnpapers.com

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