October 31st is just around the corner and as kids plan to run wildly from door to door, pets are equally excited about all the fuss and activity. Lots of doorbell ringing to practice barking at, plenty of décor that begs for chewing or eating, and a few pets might even find the bag of treats. But all of these elements are potentially hazardous for animals’ health and well-being. So as pet owners prepare for fright fests and greeting trick-or-treaters, remember these pet safety tips to ensure a fun and safe night for all.
- Keep chocolates out of reach – Halloween is the most dangerous time of year for accidental chocolate ingestion and with all the excitement, setting the candy bowl just within reach might prompt such a feeding frenzy. Remind the family that such treats need to be kept up off the floor and wrappers should be thrown away in a sealed trash can since this plastic can cause serious intestinal issues. Also, have the number to the 24/7 pet poison helpline handy just in case: 1-800-213-6680.
- Pet-friendly costumes – While it’s not uncommon for pets to dress-up to complement their owners' attire, what is cute and funny is not always safe. Check pet costumes thoroughly for any pieces that could be chewed lose and swallowed. Collars should not be too tight, and be conscious of the weather as some dogs may require more or less clothing to be comfortable. Additionally, hats or head gear that might impair vision can be put on for pictures, but should be removed prior to going door-to-door.
- Use “Fido lives here” signage – Let visitors know if you have a pet that should not be let loose by having the appropriate signage on your fence, gate, and front door. Although placing the animal on a leash or closed in a bedroom is a good defense, accidents happen, and if a pet sneaks out the door, it helps to have others aware so they can let you know or prevent the animal from running too far. Remember, dogs especially can be spooked by loud noises and will want to find a place to hide, so be conscious of any activities planned that might warrant a late night run.
- Substitute candles – If the yard demands an eerie effect, opt for a strobe light or colored light bulbs instead of lighting candles. The risk of a potential fire increases significantly when there are animals running around, plus pets don’t understand about the risks and can easily get burned. When candles are a must, try the battery-operated kind instead and keep real candles for another less lively occasion.
- Avoid glowing toys – Glow sticks and necklaces are simply toys waiting to be chewed on by dogs and cats, so be wary of purchasing these items at all. However, if they are a costume essential, make sure that the glow sticks make it into a trash can at the end of the night. The chemicals inside, although not life threatening, can make a pet’s life pretty miserable with side effects such as profuse drooling and foaming from the mouth.
- Leashes are mandatory – No matter how well-behaved a dog may be, or even how badly a leash may look with the costume, leashes are simply a must when it comes to joining in trick-or-treating. More and more often, dogs are joining families as they make their rounds from house to house and this means there are other mutts in the street that can make for an unpredictable combination.
- Keep doorbell ringing to a minimum – While exciting for some dogs at first, as they are often eager to meet a new visitor, the persistent and often loud doorbell can be stressful to many pets as well as exhausting. If possible, leave your door cracked or open for guests so you can be ready at the door before an announcement is needed. Placing tape over the ringer, or taping a note requesting to knock on the door, are other methods that will minimize the noise. Of course, if it’s a nice night, sitting outside can be an equally effective option that is great for outdoor loving pets too.
- Treat your pet – Bones, catnip, or whatever your pet loves most, don't forget to treat your pet to something special on Halloween. They deserve it.