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Letters from the Kennel: 5 Pet Safety Tips for a Happy Halloween

Tomorrow is Halloween. It’s the spookiest night of the year, and if you have a pet, it has the potential to get even spookier.

The holidays are generally a happy time. Halloween is tons of fun for humans, and dressing up in a creative costume, visiting haunted houses, and eating lots of free candy is a once-a-year experience. But with pets, this fun holiday could turn sour in a matter of seconds. The following 6 pet safety tips can help ensure that Halloween goes well for your family.

1. Keep the candy out of reach.


Halloween candy is exciting for humans, and it’s exciting for pets, too. However, you shouldn’t let your pets eat Halloween candy. Most candy given out on this holiday contains at least one of two very dangerous ingredients: chocolate and xylitol. Both of these ingredients can be potentially fatal for pets. In addition, while a little bit of sugar is not harmful for your pets, feeding them treats like candy can contribute to obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, and dental problems. Cats’ and dogs’ bodies process glucose (a form of sugar that comes from the food we eat) in a similar way as humans’ bodies, but since they are smaller, their bodies have to work harder than ours to process extra glucose. You can avoid health problems by making sure your pet has a balanced diet and doesn’t gorge on easy-to-reach Halloween candy.

Make sure you are properly disposing of candy wrappers, too, as they can cause choking or intestinal obstruction.

2. Make your pet's comfort your top priority.

If you’re thinking about taking your dog with you when you go trick-or-treating, make sure you’ve given it some serious thought. There will be lots of people, lots of commotion, and many scary costumes. Halloween can be overwhelming for dogs, and it’s easy for a dog to get excited or agitated with everything going on around them. If you take them out, make sure you know that they’ll be comfortable on this unique evening. Also, make sure you keep them on a leash at all times. And if you’re not sure, just leave them home! You can walk them before all the festivities get started, if you’re concerned.

If you take your dog trick-or-treating, make sure you keep a close eye on them. There may be candy that has fallen to the ground, and your dog will be interested in getting a bite of it.

3. Give your pet a safe space in the house.

Opening the door for trick-or-treaters all night long is an invitation for your pet to escape! If you’re going to be answering the door every time someone comes a-knockin’, make sure your cat or dog is restrained behind a gate or even in their own quiet room. The repeated knocking at the door or ringing of the doorbell, loud children, and spooky sound effects can be very stressful for pets, and even if the commotion doesn’t make its way inside, it can be too much. You could even put on some calming music in their room, to mask the excessive noise. Make sure your pet has proper identification, just in case they do slip by.

Halloween is a good night to keep your pets indoors. Unfortunately, there will be pranksters who are focusing on the “trick” part of trick-or-treat. Keeping your pet indoors will ensure that they are safe from anyone who may take advantage of the fact that they are unsupervised.

4. Keep decorations out of reach.


Although humans know that the decorations are there to look at, dogs may think they’re there for eating. Make sure your dog can’t access any of your decorations, especially electrical cords, anything that could be a choking hazard, and seasonal plants that could be toxic (for Halloween, think pumpkins that have been sitting out for days and are starting to rot!). Use battery operated candles in your jack-o-lanterns to avoid your dog accidentally knocking them over and either setting something on fire or getting burned.

5. Make sure your dog's costume is safe

If you’re dressing your dog up for Halloween, make sure their costume fits properly and is comfortable, ensuring that it will not interfere with their breathing or movement. Their costume should not have any small, easily chewed off pieces that could be a choking hazard. Monitor your dog while he is in costume, just in case. If you’re going to be leaving your dog unsupervised for a while, it’s best to take the costume off for that time.

From all of us here at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, we wish you a happy and safe Halloween!

Are there any safety tips you think we missed? Leave us a comment below and let us know.