October 24, 2013
Cobweb covered doorways, porches lined with glowing pumpkins,
and miniature visitors draped in white sheets can only mean one
thing: Halloween is right around the corner. With the holiday
rapidly approaching, it is time to start planning your favorite
traditions. In addition to the pumpkin carving and costume parties,
keeping your pets safe during this holiday is an importation
tradition to uphold.
Whether they are your child’s faithful trick-or-treating
companion, or the Toto to your Dorothy costume from the Wizard of
Oz, pets can be an integral part of your Halloween celebrations.
“It is more than okay to dress your pet up in a Halloween costume,
as long as the costume fits them appropriately and isn’t too
tight,” says Dr. Mark Stickney, Clinical Associate Professor at the
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences. “A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you can easily
slip two fingers underneath whatever bands are in the costume and
to not leave the costume on them when they are unsupervised.” Just
keep in mind that while a costume may be cute and funny to you,
your pet may disagree.
When your pet is accompanying you on your trick-or-treating
route, or helping to welcome your sweet-toothed visitors, make sure
they are constantly under close supervision and on a leash. “There
is definitely some mischief that goes on during Halloween, and it
is highly recommended that you keep your pets inside the house,”
said Stickney. “If they are indoor/outdoor animals, this is the
night to keep them indoors.”
Stickney also recommends that outdoor-only pets be kept in a
safe and secure location, such as a fenced-in backyard with the
lights on, so you can routinely monitor their whereabouts. People
with black cats should be extra certain to keep them safe and
indoors, as they are, unfortunately, the target for many pranks on
You should also make sure that your pet has proper
identification, such as a microchip or a collar with detailed
contact information. It isn’t unusual for pets to slip through the
frequently opened front door, and if spooked by noisy groups of
small goblins, run too far to find their way back. If Scruffy
is helping you greet trick-or-treaters at the door, make sure he is
comfortable with the intrusion of strangers. Some animals can
become overwhelmed with all of the chaos, and growl or even snap at
the overzealous guests.
There is nothing like an emergency trip to the veterinary
hospital to spoil your Halloween fun, so be certain to keep the
candy bowl as far away from your pet as possible. “Candy,
especially dark chocolate, is extremely toxic to dogs,” said
Stickney. “If they do get a hold of it, call your veterinarian
immediately and tell them what exactly they ate and how much of it
they consumed.” There are plenty of pet-approved treats to give
them other than the leftover Kit-Kat bars they keep eyeing.
There are a few tips for decorating your haunted house as well.
“One thing to potentially watch out for are any decorations with
streamers or artificial spider webs,” said Stickney. “If cats try
to catch and eat these, they could contract a linear foreign body
which would require emergency surgery to remove.” Keeping open
flames, like a candle inside a carved pumpkin, out of reach is
recommended as well. Curious puppies or kittens can easily knock
them over, getting burned or inadvertently setting your house on
fire. Opt for a battery-operated candle instead.
Parents take extra precautions so that their children’s
Halloween experience is safe and enjoyable, but it is important to
extend the same care to your beloved pets. As long as you follow
these general safety guidelines, Scruffy and Fluffy are sure to be
in for a howlin’ good Halloween.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for
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