Attention, animal lovers. It’s almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying “trick or treat!” for many years to come.
1. No tricks and no treats. That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Sally and Mr. Peepers. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol can also cause problems. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately at (888) 426-4435.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset if your pet decides to nibble on them. Keep them out of reach of your pets.
3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames. Many retail stores sell battery-powered “flickering” candles you can place safely in your carved pumpkins.
5. Dress-up can be a hit or miss for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams). If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement, sight, or hearing, and it shouldn’t impede its ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. For pets that prefer their “birthday suits,” consider letting them go au naturale or sporting a festive bandana.
6. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, be sure your pet’s costume fits properly, as external objects can snag ill-fitting outfits, or your pet’s paws or jaw, and can lead to injury.
7. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
8. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you. Remember, your pet counts on you to take care of him or her. Be a responsible pet owner, and have a safe Halloween!