Monday, October 17, 2011
Halloween is a holiday many people plan for long before the leaves begin to fall. Spooky costumes, eerie sounds, and a house full of masked intruders invade our lives, which can terrify some pets. Halloween is a time for human fun, but it's also a time to remember your pet to help make their holiday as stress free as possible. It's a reminder that's given each year, but it's important because we need to keep our pets safe during this holiday.
Many people decorate their homes with scary ghosts and goblins, and play creepy sounds on the CD player for Halloween. A pet's home is suddenly overrun with two legged creatures that may sound like humans, but they don't look normal and that can confuse and frighten some pets. We don't always notice how our pets react to things we find enjoyable. Scary music and loud noises can be stressful. It's enough to send a frightened dog or cat racing out the front door when it's opened to trick-or-treaters or guests arriving for a party.
Animal shelters are very busy right after Halloween with lost pets that are found and turned over to them. Even a friendly and happy dog can become stressed or aggressive by seeing creatures instead of people standing at the front door. Not all pets are happy when company comes, and dogs or cats that normally go crazy every time the doorbell rings can become agitated with the constant interruptions. The safest thing you can do to protect your pet and your guests is to secure your pet in a room away from the ghosts of Halloween. If your pet doesn't have a microchip, make sure they wear an ID tag just in case they slip out the door. That way, if someone finds your pet they know who to call. If you walk your dog on Halloween, keep him on a short leash to control him better. Using reflective tape on his collar and leash can help drivers see him.
Keep decorations high enough that your pets can’t get to them. Fake cobwebs should be used sparingly outside to keep wildlife from getting caught in them. Candles and jack-o-lanterns can be a fire hazard if an excited pet knocks them over, as can electrical cords if your pet chews on them. Supervise pets around decorations, and keep electrical wires and cords away from pets.
Halloween can be a dangerous holiday for outside pets, especially black cats because they are used in satanic rituals or Halloween pranks even today. Most shelters will not adopt out their black cats during the weeks leading up to Halloween, largely for that reason. Keep outside cats and dogs inside during Halloween day and night. To be on the safe side, you should keep them inside for at least a week before and a week after the holiday.
Candy is a big concern because most has ingredients that are toxic to dogs and cats. Don't allow your kids to share any holiday candy with a pet, and make sure pets can't get into your stash of candy for trick-or-treaters. So much of our food is toxic to pets, and it's always wise to never give your pet “people food” if you aren't sure it's safe. Xylitol, raisins and nuts can kill pets; chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can also kill pets. Stock up on your pet's favorite CANIDAE treats for a safe Halloween treat you won't have to worry about.
Not all pets enjoy wearing costumes. If your pet is uncomfortable in a costume or is reluctant to wear one, don't make them just for your amusement. However, if your pet enjoys showing off their scary or cute holiday costume, just make sure it fits properly and doesn't fall down over their eyes. It shouldn't constrict their movement, breathing, hearing or ability to bark or meow if they need to. Avoid using rubber bands because they can be forgotten and left on the pet or get caught in their fur. The rubber band can get too tight on the pet and cause swelling and pain. Never leave a costume on an unsupervised pet, especially a pet that might chew or eat the clothing. And remember, a costume may be cute on your pet, but if he gets scared and runs away, the costume can become caught on fences or tree branches.
With the proper precautions, Halloween can be a fun time for pets as well as humans. It's a good idea to keep your vet's emergency phone number and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number (888-426-4435) on your fridge or in a place where you can find it quickly.
Photo by Sarah Kim
Read more articles by Linda Cole