Although you and your family enjoy frightful Halloween fun, the holiday can be a dangerous and scary time for your pet. Our Town & Country Animal Hospital team describes the three most common Halloween hazards, and offers tips to keep your pet safe and avoid an emergency.
Halloween pet hazard #1: Toxic treats
This time of year, candy fills grocery store shelves, and the choices are endless. Your family likely has their favorites, but your pet is not picky, and finds all candy equally enticing. When you set out candy bowls overflowing with chocolates and sweets, you give your pet the perfect opportunity to sneak a snack. Unfortunately, many common Halloween treats contain ingredients that are toxic to pets, including:
- Chocolate — Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which stimulate your pet’s central nervous system. Signs include restlessness, diarrhea, excessive panting, and seizures.
- Sugar-free candies — A common ingredient in sugar-free candies and gums, xylitol causes your pet to experience hypoglycemia. Signs include weakness, vomiting, seizures, and collapse.
- Raisins — Grapes and raisins contain an unidentified toxin that can cause your pet to experience kidney failure.
- Caramel apples — Your pet can have gastrointestinal upset after ingesting a large amount of sugar. In addition, apple seeds are toxic to pets, and contain cyanide, which can lead to signs such as dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and shock.
- Macadamia nuts — Nuts have a high fat content, and can trigger your pet to experience pancreatitis. However, macadamia nuts are especially dangerous because they contain an unidentified toxin whose signs include lethargy, weakness, and tremors.
Prevent your pet from getting sick from sweets by storing all candy well out of their reach. In addition, ensure you and your family do not leave candy wrappers lying around. If your pet swallows a treat wrapper, the paper can become a choking hazard or cause a digestive system blockage. If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested Halloween candy or wrappers, call Town & Country Animal Hospital immediately.
Halloween pet hazard #2: Door dash
On Halloween night, your front door likely remains open as you continually greet trick-or-treaters. An open door and a group of costumed strangers can overwhelm an anxious pet, and they may dash outside in response to their fear. To prevent your pet from slipping out the front door—and risk becoming lost or getting hit by a car—keep your pet on a leash or in another area of the house while you pass out candy to the ghouls and goblins. Designate a quiet room where your pet can escape if the noisy festivities overwhelm them. Provide your pet’s favorite toys and bedding, and play music to mask outside noises. To distract your pet from the holiday chaos, you can also give them a food puzzle toy. If your frightened furry friend manages to dash out the door, a microchip and identification tags can help you and your pet reunite quickly. Before Halloween, ensure your pet is properly identified:
- Microchip your pet — Your veterinarian can microchip your pet quickly and easily. Microchipping provides your pet with permanent identification. When the small chip is in place, veterinarians and pet shelter employees can access your contact information if your pet is brought to their facility. If your pet is already microchipped, ensure your contact information is accurate in the registry’s database.
- Check your pet’s collar and tags — Ensure your pet’s collar is secure and your contact information is up to date on their identification tags.
Halloween pet hazard #3: Dress-up dangers
Pet costumes are cute, but they can be dangerous if they impair movement, vision, or breathing. If your pet will be donning a costume, ensure it is loose-fitting and free from embellishments your pet could swallow, which can cause them to choke or experience a dangerous gastrointestinal obstruction. Your pet may be obliging and allow you to dress them in a costume, but they are likely not enjoying themselves. Take a few adorable photos, and then let your pet get back to wearing their birthday suit.
Holidays are always more fun when our pets join in the festivities. However, your pet depends on you to always keep them safe and fear-free, especially during lively—and sometimes scary—celebrations. Follow these tips to protect your pet from Halloween hazards, and contact Town & Country Animal Hospital if your pet has an emergency.