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Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Unless a pet is generally anxious and fearful, pet owners may not consider how stressful or frightening an unusual event like Halloween can be for their furry friend.  However, all pets like predictable routines, and can become overly excited, stressed or frightened by the many strange sights, sounds and smells of this holiday.  This excitement, stress or fear can lead pets to do things that cause them to become lost, injured or ill.  Fortunately, there are some very simple things pet owners can do to keep their pet safe during Halloween.

Halloween Safety for Pets

This Halloween, follow these tips to keep your pet safe:

● Take your dog for his evening walk as early as possible so as to avoid trick-or-treaters.  Many dogs are frightened by people appearing in costumes, so it is best to avoid them as much as possible by taking your walk while most children are still eating dinner.  Always keep a very firm grip on the leash in case you do encounter any trick-or-treaters and your dog reacts.

● Keep all pets indoors as much as possible.  Not only can outdoor pets become frightened and agitated by all the strange noises, sights and smells of Halloween but there are unfortunately some individuals who find it amusing to taunt, poison or even steal pets that are left outdoors.

● Secure your pet somewhere in your home well before and while you have trick-or-treaters.  Even the calmest and most friendly pets can be startled and upset by the constant opening of the door to noisy, costumed children and may then do something unpredictable–including bolting through the open door.  It’s best to keep them secure in another room with favorite toys and blankets.  At the very least, you should keep your pet on a leash so that they can be easily controlled if they do become excited or agitated.

● Make sure your pets are wearing collars, ID tags and microchips.  It may seem entirely impossible that your pet would get lost, especially if you try to keep them secure in another room of the house, but it is far better to be safe than sorry.   A clearly identified pet is much more likely to be rapidly reunited with his owner.

● Keep all Halloween candy out of reach.  Chocolate is highly toxic to pets as it contains both caffeine and theobromine.  Xylitol, an alternative sweetener that has recently gained great popularity, is also highly toxic to pets as it can lead to hypoglycemia.  Additionally, wrappers that are ingested can lead to choking or intestinal obstruction.

● Take your pet to the vet immediately if you notice any signs of chocolate poisoning, which can include excessive drooling, excessive urination, dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures or coma.

● Make sure lit candles, jack-o-lanterns, decorations and ornaments are not accessible by pets.  A pet’s curiosity can lead them to get too close to dangerous items, and they may even try to ingest small pieces that they break off of larger decorations and ornaments.

● Carefully consider pet costumes.  We may all agree that pets look adorable in their costumes, but the truth is that these costumes can be annoying and dangerous for pets.  It is important to ensure that costumes fit properly and are comfortable, and don’t obstruct your pet’s ability to breathe, see, hear and move normally.  It can also be helpful to ensure that costumes are flame retardant and free from small or dangling parts that can easily be chewed off and swallowed.  Always make sure that your pet is supervised while in costume.

● Avoid walking your dog while trick-or-treating is occurring.  You may think that Halloween walks are wonderfully stimulating, but they can be horribly frightening for your dog due to the many strange sights, sounds and smells.  Try to walk your dog well before trick-or-treaters hit the neighborhood, and keep a firm grip on the leash just in case.

Even if your pet doesn’t understand the excitement of Halloween, you can ensure that they have a safe and comfortable time.  Be aware of your pet’s needs and desires, follow the above tips, and have fun!

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