For many people, it’s one of the most anticipated nights of the year – filled with the magic of costumes, the sweetness of treats and plenty of family fun. But for our beloved pets, Halloween might not be such a celebration.
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Before putting on your costume and filling the candy bowl on October 31, please make sure that your pet has a safe space indoors to spend the evening. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States both strongly recommend that pets spend the evening in a familiar, quiet room away from the commotion at the front door. This is especially important for dogs and cats, who could become frightened or stressed by the strange smells, noises, and decorations and behave unpredictably as a result. Leaving your pet out in the yard is not a good idea.
For cat owners, Halloween can be especially terrifying. If a black cat is a part of your family, the risk of potential violence against your pet is heightened. This is because black cats are often associated with witchcraft or bad luck, and can suffer at the hands of ill-intentioned passersby. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recommend that all cats be kept indoors and far away from danger.
“The top Halloween hazards for pets are escaping and being poisoned. Both animal shelters and veterinarians see a spike in their business during the Halloween season,” says the Humane Society.
When it comes to the risk of pet escape, the ASPCA, Humane Society, and PETA all highlight the importance of pet ID (microchipping, a collar, or tags). The sooner your pet can be identified, the sooner they can be safe.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, calls to the helpline’s veterinarians increase by 12 percent in the week leading up to Halloween – and particularly on the weekends near the holiday. The Humane Society, ASPCA, and Pet Poison Helpline show that the combined risk of chocolate, grapes and raisins, glow sticks, costume items, and candles (among other items) can make your house a minefield of danger for your pet.
A surprisingly dangerous ingredient is xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in candies and gum, according to PETA and the ASPCA.
If your pet wants to dress up, make sure that their costume does not obstruct their movement, breathing, sight, or regular habits – for example, going to the bathroom or barking. Small items or metal embellishments made of zinc or lead could cause choking or “serious poisoning” if ingested, according to the Pet Poison Helpline.
In case a costume is found to be unsuitable, the Humane Society says that pumpkin and ladybug costumes are very popular – and they might just involve a small, cute, and comfy headband! Remember, Halloween is supposed to be mysterious and full of fun for everyone, so please make sure that your pets feel their best.
For additional important information, I strongly encourage you to check out the webpages listed below for the ASPCA, Humane Society, PETA, and Pet Poison Helpline.
In case of a pet poisoning emergency, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 1-800-213-6680.