Halloween is just around the corner, along with all of the festivities, costumes, Jack-o-lanterns, and bags of sugary treats. This nostalgic holiday is enjoyable for young and old, but can sometimes be quite frightening to our pets. Loud noises, strangers at the door, and even costumes can cause stress in pets who are not used to the commotion or who suffer from anxiety.
Many items included in your children’s assortment of goodies contain pet toxins that can result in poisoning. And items like glow sticks and lit candles can also pose a concern. So, is it possible to keep pets safe this Halloween?
Despite the danger, with a bit of planning, we know that Halloween can be a safe and fun holiday for fur friends. West Park Animal Hospital is here to help you and your best friend have the greatest Halloween ever.
No Treats for Pet Tricks
By planning ahead, you can help identify items that may be poisonous to pets. The following list is one of the worst offenders when it comes to pet emergencies:
- Chocolate (particularly dark chocolate)
- Xylitol (found in sugar-free items, like gum and candies)
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
In general, consider all candies and treats to be no-nos, as they can result in toxicity, gastrointestinal upset, or pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas. For the adults, watch pets around alcohol and caffeine, which are also highly toxic. Stash all treats in a safe location and place beverages out of your pet’s reach.
If you want to treat your furry goblin to Halloween snacks, consider making your own pet-friendly goodies:
- Peanut butter and pumpkin dog treats
- Tuna cookies for cats
- Pumpkin kitty treats
- Pumpkin leather for dogs
Dressing up your dog, cat, or even exotic can be an adorable option for photo ops. But with a caveat: not all animals appreciate these accoutrements. Plan in advance the suitability of your pet’s costume, which should not include:
- Items that can break off or be chewed and ingested
- Costumes that cover the face
- Items that are too restrictive or ill fitting
- Anything that can cause strangulation
- Glow sticks and jewelry (toxic to pets)
Once you have your perfect pet costume, try it out to ensure it’s the right size and gauge how your pet responds. Does he try to run away or get out of the costume? Is he noticeably stressed, or is he calm and loves of all of the attention he is getting?
If your pet doesn’t enjoy it, don’t force the issue. You can always don a simple Halloween-themed handkerchief if the costume is a failure.
Preventing Anxiety and Stress
If you know that your pet isn’t a fan of Halloween, try some positive changes you can make this year:
- Find a safe, cozy place in the home for your pet to stay during trick-or-treating time. Offer fresh water, a bed or crate, toys, and some treats.
- Outdoor cats are at greater risk for becoming lost or being the target of animal cruelty. Bring all pets inside.
- Wait until your pet is safely in his secure room before dressing up in your costume, since some pets are afraid of masks.
- Consider playing soothing music or other background noise to muffle the noises outside. Some pets can be soothed by a pheromone spray like Feliway or other products.
If your pet is quite anxious, opt for going out instead of hosting trick-or-treaters at home. Call us if you would like suggestions or a consultation to help reduce stress in your pet.
Keep Pets Safe This Halloween
The night of fright doesn’t have to be frightful for our four-legged companions. Get a head start on planning for their safety and enjoyment by following some of these pet-friendly suggestions, or feel free to call us with any additional concerns.
Have a wonderful Halloween from West Park!