From carefully curated costumes to tasty treats, what’s not to love about Halloween? While many of us look forward to this fun fall holiday, it’s not all tricks and treats for the four-legged members of our family. Here’s how the whole family can enjoy this ghoulish evening, without risking your pet’s health or safety.
#1: Have a plan in place to keep candy goodies out of paws’ reach
One of the best parts of Halloween is handing out sweet treats to the neighborhood children—and seeing the haul your kids bring home. However, the exorbitant amount of candy that takes over our homes around Halloween poses a serious threat to our pets. It’s well-known that chocolate is toxic to our furry friends, but did you know about these other candy hazards?
- Xylitol — This common artificial sweetener is considered safe for human consumption, but can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels in pets—and in very small doses. Commonly found in toothpaste and baked goods, xylitol is also a typical ingredient in sugar-free gum, hard candies, gummies, and peanut butter.
- Candy wrappers — These may not be inherently toxic, but if ingested in large quantities, they can lead to choking or intestinal blockages, requiring emergency treatment.
Because of their high fat content and sweet taste, candies pose a big problem to pets who likely won’t eat only one or two pieces. As with other rich foods, pets can easily develop pancreatitis and gastrointestinal upset after ingesting candy, which may earn them a trip to Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care.
What’s the solution? You don’t have to forego doling out goodies on Halloween because you have pets—although, you could certainly consider this. Try opting for less toxic treats, like popcorn or pretzels—but, stay away from raisins, which are poisonous to pets—always ensuring you keep the bowl on a high counter or cupboard. Reserve a certain room or closed-off space that your pets cannot access where your kids can unload their Halloween goodies. In the meantime, learn more about other common pet toxins here.
#2: Be mindful when choosing a costume for your pet
Few things are cuter than a fluffy friend in a Halloween costume, but while the costume possibilities are seemingly endless, not all are pet-appropriate. If you decide to dress your pet this Halloween, ensure the following:
- The attire doesn’t restrict eyesight, hearing, or breathing.
- No dangly strings or garlands are attached that may entangle your pet.
- The costume has no small parts that your pet may swallow or choke on.
If your pet is amenable to wearing a costume, ensure you try it on ahead of time, allowing them to become accustomed to the garment before the big day. Of course, never force your pet to don a costume—if they are not into it, forego the ensemble.
#3: Stick to pet-appropriate Halloween decorations
Decorating is a fun way to get into the Halloween spirit. However, common October home decor can be risky for pets. For instance, Jack-o’-lanterns and candles may be knocked over, posing a fire hazard. Garlands and string lights can lead to strangulation, electrocution, or foreign body intestinal obstruction. Particularly curious pets may find those porch pumpkins tempting treats, potentially leading to vomiting and diarrhea.
Safe Halloween decorating is possible, with a few modifications. Place candles and jack-o’-lanterns in areas with minimal pet traffic, and hang garlands high above windows where the most agile cat cannot reach. If you’re concerned about pets getting into your gourds, consider swapping them for artificial ones.
#4: Consider uninstalling your doorbell
Pets with noise aversion—or simply a distaste for the doorbell—aren’t usually big fans of Halloween. The constant ringing and knocking can cause certain pets to become anxious or fearful, which may lead to hasty reactions, such as biting, scratching, or attempting to escape. If you share your home with a pet who fits this bill, try removing your doorbell temporarily, or place a sign requesting that trick-or-treaters refrain from ringing or knocking. Some people opt to leave a bowl of treats outdoors, for visitors to help themselves.
#5: Offer a calm alternative for your pet
Despite pet-proofing and preparation, some pets simply aren’t fans of Halloween, and the excitement it brings. For these particularly sensitive pets, create a safe, quiet space in your home where they can retreat when the frenzy ensues.
At Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care, we’re here for any Halloween-related pet emergencies that may come your way. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns about Halloween treats and your pet.