Halloween is an exciting time of year, with pumpkins, sweets and fancy dress costumes found in most households. There are many fun Halloween activities to participate in, but some of them can cause a risk to your pets if precautions are not taken. So, with some careful planning, we will help you keep Halloween as safe as possible for your pets.
Keeping your pet safe from sweets
If your child goes out trick-or-treating then it is likely that they will bring home a selection of sweets and chocolates… Meanwhile if you are expecting any Halloween visitors then you may have sweets in the house, ready to give out. You might not be the only one that enjoys these sweet treats, as your dog may also show an interest in them, so it is important that you keep them out of their reach. This is because certain foods can be harmful to their health if eaten. The easiest way to keep food away from dogs is to keep it in a high cupboard that they cannot access, so you can be sure that your dog cannot get to them even when you are not in the room.
Sweet wrappers and food packaging can also be dangerous to your pets if eaten, as it can result in digestive upsets or in severe cases may even cause a blockage in their digestive tract. While dogs are the most common pet to ingest inedible items, inquisitive cats cannot be ruled out from also having a try. If you suspect your pet has eaten something, or if they are showing any signs of a digestive upset, then you should phone our practice for advice.
Chocolate may be a favourite treat of ours but we should keep it out of the reach of our dogs. This is because chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. The level of theobromine varies, depending on the type of chocolate, with dark chocolate having the highest levels. A dog that has eaten chocolate may show signs of vomiting, increased drinking and urination, muscle tremors or seizures, with signs often starting within hours of ingestion. If your dog has eaten chocolate then you will need to bring your dog in to see one of our vets, as soon as possible, so that treatment can be given.
Certain sweets, usually labelled as sugar free, may contain a sweetener called xylitol, which if eaten is highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol can be found in chewing gum, sweets and cakes, as well as other food items. Unfortunately, if a dog eats anything containing xylitol then it can quickly become fatal. To avoid this toxin you should check the ingredients on all food items so that you can prevent your dog from having access to any food that contains xylitol. If you suspect that your dog may have eaten this toxin then you should bring your pet straight to our practice for emergency treatment. If you have any questions about xylitol then you can speak to one of our team for more information.
Keeping your pet safe from pumpkins
Lighting up a carved pumpkin with a candle can make a great Halloween decoration, but you should be aware of the risk of burns to any indoor pets that may come across it. Burns are painful and can result in dangerous or even life-threatening injuries, so it is safer to keep your pet in a separate room away from any candles, even if you think they are out of your pet’s reach. If your pet does get burnt then phone our practice urgently for advice and one of our vets can see your pet for treatment.
After Halloween, once your pumpkin has been finished with, you should carefully dispose of it somewhere that your dog cannot access. Though a decomposing pumpkin is not appealing to us, our dog may still think it makes a tasty treat. Unfortunately, if they do eat decomposing food then it could result in an unpleasant digestive upset.
Halloween costumes for pets
With many interesting Halloween costumes available to buy for your pets, you might be keen to dress them up. While some pets may tolerate this, others may find the process too much. If your pet is nervous or show signs of not enjoying wearing the costume, then it is best to leave them out of your activities. It is also important that you never leave your pet in a costume unattended, as they may chew and eat the costume, or even get stuck in the material if the costume starts to come off.
Keeping your pet calm during Halloween activities
Halloween may be a time of great activity at your house, with visitors coming and going, which can result in increased noise and disturbances for your dog or cat. It is important to keep them calm and relaxed during this time to prevent them experiencing anxiety.
Tips to help keep your pets calm;
- Provide your dog and cat with a quiet room, away from the front door and any visitors.
- Give them a den they can retreat to – for cats, it should normally be high up, where they’ll feel safe.
- Provide your dog with distractions. For example; a Kong toy filled with food.
- Make sure that your dog has had adequate exercise during the day.
- Consider using pheromones, such as Adaptil, to provide a calm environment for your dog; or Feliway for your cat.
By following our advice, you can hopefully make Halloween a safe time for your pets while also keeping it an enjoyable experience for your family. However, if you have any questions about how you can make Halloween safer for your pet then one of our team is always happy to discuss this with you.