I was about nine-years-old when I learned two very important lessons about pets and Halloween safety.
First, cats are alternatively curious about, and absolutely terrified of, little kids trick-or-treating. Secondly, cats’ tails can dip into a jack-o-lantern and start smoking really quickly.
With scary ghouls, fireworks displays and costumes galore, Halloween can be a hazardous and downright frightening time for furry friends. Thankfully there are easy ways to keep them safe:
1. Keep candy away
The most popular Halloween candy – chocolate – also happens to be the most deadly to dogs and cats. It contains theobromine, which is essentially poison to animals, and will cause them to vomit and have diarrhea. Not fun.
Keep candy bowls and trick-or-treat bags off the floor to deter dogs (cats don’t have as much of a sweet tooth, so feline theobromine poisonings are rare).
2. Turn down the volume
Yelling trick-or-treaters and fireworks displays can cause the most relaxed pet to bolt. The B.C. SPCA says pets tend to act out of character when faced with fright.
Think cats and dogs jumping out of windows, darting into traffic or running into barbed wire fences to get away from what’s scaring them. Prevent your pets from freaking out and escaping by keeping them inside, preferably in a quiet room.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the SPCA says not to react in a consoling manner if they’re freaked out about loud noises. Instead of quietly saying “it’s okay,” which can reward fearful behaviour, try using a happy and upbeat voice, and try to distract your dog with toys or play.
3. Keep pets inside
It may seem tempting to take your dog trick-or-treating with the kids, whereas the reality is that nothing could be worse. Dogs may react violently or go into protection mode if faced with people dressed in costumes. If they are taken along, keep them on a short leash. And this is a good time to make sure your pet has identification like a microchip or tattoo in case they get loose.
If you’re going to put your pet in a costume, make sure it’s properly fitted and is comfortable. Uncomfortable dogs have been known to snack on available material, or worse, choke on loose cords.
Make sure the costume doesn’t interfere with their sight or hearing. Try to get your pet accustomed to the costume before Halloween. And if they really don’t like it, consider taking a token photo to capture the moment and don’t make them wear it all night.
5. Pet-safe home décor
Candles and jack-o-lanterns can add a spooky vibe to your home for the holiday, but they should always be kept at a safe distance from pets, or on table tops. Flames or hot wax can burn pets if knocked over. There are great LED candles you can use to replace conventional ones.
By thinking about your furry friends, Halloween can be a safer and stress-free occasion.
The B.C. SPCA and Iams have loads of year-round safety tips for your cat and dog.
Photo courtesy of www.petsadviser.com