NEW YORK, September 29, 2008 — Keeping your pets safe on Halloween doesn’t have to be tricky. The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is offering the following tips to help pet parents avoid potential hazards as they celebrate Halloween this October.
“Many of our favorite Halloween traditions could pose a potential threat to our companion animals,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, board-certified veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president, ASPCA Animal Health Services, which includes the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill. “So as you start to make plans for trick-or-treating or Halloween costumes, pet parents should be aware of Halloween-related products and activities that can be potentially dangerous to pets.”
Here are just some of the ways animal lovers can keep their pets safe this Halloween:
- Skip the sweets. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. “Chocolate, especially baker’s and dark chocolate can also be potentially poisonous to animals, especially dogs,” advises Dr. Hansen. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate and even seizures.
- Watch out for those wrappers. Cats especially love to play with candy wrappers, but ingesting aluminum foil or cellophane can cause intestinal blockage and induce vomiting.
- Trick-or-treating is for kids, not pets. During trick-or-treating hours it is best to keep pets in a room away from your front door. “Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors constantly arriving at the door, and pets may escape the safety of their home. Be sure that your pet has identification tags should he or she accidentally get loose,” recommends Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Pet Adoption Center in Manhattan. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags and/or is microchipped.
- Careful with costumes! If you dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his movement, hearing, sight or ability to breathe or bark. Also check the costume for choking hazards. A smart alternative to dressing your pet from head-to-paw? A simple, festive Halloween bandana.
- Decorations can be dangerous. Re-think putting candles in Jack-O-Lanterns. Pets can easily knock over Jack-O-Lanterns and start a fire, and curious kittens are particularly at risk of getting burned by candle flames. Also take care to prevent your pets from having access to wires and cords from holiday decorations. If chewed, a wire can damage your pet’s mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock.
If your dog or cat accidentally ingests any potentially harmful products and you need emergency advice, please consult your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (a fee applies) or www.aspca.org/apcc. For more information on having a fun, safe Halloween with your pets, please visit www.aspca.org.
Tips from The Humane Society of the United States
If you get the willies when ghosts and Grim Reapers come rapping at your door on Halloween, imagine how frightened your unsuspecting pet could be. Constant knocks and doorbells, followed by chants of “Trick or Treat!” can be very stressful on pets, leading to panic and other uncharacteristic behaviors.
The best place for pets on this hallowed eve is a safe, quiet spot out of the way of the activities and the continually opened front door, says The Humane Society of the United States.
“As creatures of habit, pets thrive on daily routines and some can become very agitated when those routines are disrupted,” said Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for the Companion Animal Section of The Humane Society of the United States. “For their comfort and safety, the most considerate thing you can do is keep them away from the evening’s activities.”
Here are some easy ways to ensure a safe and happy Halloween:
- Be sure all pets (including indoor only cats) are wearing collars with ID tags should they escape despite your best attempts.
- Keep pets indoors away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities.
- Hide the candy stash; it can be harmful to pets. Chocolate can be especially toxic.
- Keep your pets in their own furry birthday suits. While some pets may seem to like playing dress up, most pets dislike the confinement of costumes and masks, and they can sustain injuries if hampered in their movements.
Lighted candles pose an obvious threat, but other Halloween decorations are no treats for your pet or neighborhood wildlife:
- Hang dangling decorations up high to avoid entanglement and other hazards.
- Keep floors clear of items that may end up as your pet’s new chew toy and a choking hazard.
- Use fake cobwebs sparingly. Indoors they can pose a real threat to pets, cats especially, who may ingest them. Outdoors they may adversely affect wildlife, with small birds being especially vulnerable to becoming entangled in the webbing.
- Immediately remove any decorations an animal could get their head into such as plastic pumpkins or skulls. They are attractive to wildlife such as deer or raccoon who may think there is food inside and end up stuck on their heads endangering their lives.
- Nocturnal critters such as raccoons, opossums, and foxes wake up and venture out for food, and Halloween night is no exception. Wild animals are just that – wild – so never approach one.
For additional tips on pet care, visit humanesociety.org/