Ah, Halloween, the spookiest night of the year where you can surround yourself with tons of candy, dress up in the craziest costumes, and pass out treats to all the little ghouls in your neighborhood. Did you know that it can also be a nightmare for your pet? Skip the stress for you and your pet this year by following these helpful tips and tricks to ensure a happy and safe Halloween.
Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener that is safe for humans but kills thousands of dogs every year. Some of the most common products that contain Xylitol are hard candies, gum and mints. If you have children or are handing out any Xylitol products to trick-or-treaters, make sure that they are completely locked away from your dog. Because just 3 sticks of gum is enough to kill a small dog, and it doesn’t take much more to kill larger dogs. Check the link below to get an idea of which candies and products you should be looking out for.
Many pet owners are aware that chocolate can be dangerous for both dogs and cats, but do you know what factors influence this? The part of chocolate that is a problem for pets is a compound similar to caffeine called theobromine. All forms of chocolate contain theobromine, especially baking or dark chocolate, and can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. How chocolate affects your pet is subjective to their weight, current medical conditions, and amount/type of chocolate eaten. If your pet does happen to get a hold of some of your Halloween candy, the symptoms of chocolate poisoning to look out for may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Knowing these factors and taking the necessary precautions could mean the difference between a quick check in with your regular vet over Fido eating an M&M or a trip to the emergency room.
Almost everyone can agree that getting a box of raisins is by far one of the worst “treats” to get on Halloween. If anyone in your family happens to come home with some, make sure that they are out of reach of your pet because grapes, raisins, and other currants can lead to acute kidney failure.
4. Snack & Candy Bags
Not all treats brought home for Halloween are sweets, some trick-or-treaters will come home with bags of salty snacks such as pretzels or chips, but these snack bags are another factor to keep in mind for your pets safety. Pets can get their heads stuck in a plastic or Mylar bag, creating a vacuum-like seal and can suffocate in just 3-5 minutes. Once their head is stuck, the pet will panic, which depletes oxygen and raises carbon dioxide even further. A pet of any size can’t get the bag off their head once it’s stuck. Even if the bag is empty, your pets’ curious nose is more than enough to cause them to poke their heads in and explore. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to your pet, empty all of your chips, snacks and candies into a sealable container (or eat them all in one sitting), cut the empty snack bags down each side, and throw them away in a sealed trash container.
If you live in a neighborhood that has a constant flow of trick-or-treaters, it’s probably a good idea to keep your pet away from chaos of endless knocking, doorbell ringing, and parade of strangers. High amount of stress can lead to reduced appetite, digestive upset, or even aggression. Also, by limiting your pet to a specific area away from the commotion, it reduces the chance of them running out the door into the night.
Pets tend to explore with their mouths, and that includes Halloween decorations such as fake spider webs, moldy pumpkins or corn, glow sticks and electrical cords. Any of these common Halloween items can obstruct your pets digestive tract, which can require costly and invasive surgery to remove the obstruction if they haven’t already passed it. Glow sticks are nontoxic to pets but can leave a nasty taste which can cause them to paw at their mouth, become agitated and sometimes even vomit. If you notice that your pet has eaten one, it’s best to offer them some fresh water and even a small meal to help clear the taste out of their mouth. If you happen to have electrical decorations that have cords, it’s best to keep them covered or tucked away where your pet can’t get ahold of them. Chewing on electrical cords can cause burns to a pets tongue and mouth and can possibly build up fluid in their lungs. A serious enough electrical shock can easily put your pet in the hospital for several days.
If you decide to dress your pet in a costume this year, make sure that the costume doesn’t cause any stress or limit mobility, breathing or sight. Check costumes carefully for any small, dangling or chewed pieces that could be a choking hazard. Costumes that don’t fit quite right can get twisted on objects or your pet leading to injury. The best way to prevent any of these from occurring is to try on pet costumes beforehand because anything new should be introduced slowly, going piece by piece, with lots of encouragement and treats. If your pet seems uncomfortable/distressed at any time or develops skin problems from the costume, its best to consider letting them stroll around with a festive bandana or “au naturel.”
8. Keep pets Identifiable
As mentioned above, Halloween is by far one of the busiest nights of the year for foot traffic in your neighborhood and ensuring that your pet has proper identity is a must if they happen to dart out while opening the door for trick-or-treaters. Collars and tags are ideal if a neighbor is able to secure your pet, but microchips offer a more permanent identification if the collar or tag falls off. Halloween is a great yearly reminder to double check your and your pets information on ID tags and with the microchip company.
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