It’s time to start thinking about the ghosts, goblins, and jack-o’-lanterns that make the end of October delightfully creepy and scary! If you have children who will be going out trick-or-treating or you have little ones in your neighborhood who will be ringing your doorbell on the evening of October 31, you might be planning which candy to buy, whether you need to design or purchase costumes, and so on. As the owner of a cat or dog, however, you also need to think about the steps you will take to help them stay safe this season.
Read on for valuable Halloween pet safety tips to use later this month.
Keep Your Pet Indoors
You might have heard that black cats, in particular, are often at risk in the days leading up to Halloween. Unfortunately, if cats are left outdoors around Mischief Night, they can fall victim to cruel pranks. This applies to cats of any color, as well as to dogs. In addition to keeping pets inside to prevent mischief-related injuries and incidents, this will help your cat or dog avoid getting hit by a car due to increased traffic in the area for the holiday. Theft is another danger, particularly if you tend to get extra people in your neighborhood whom you don’t know. The best way to keep your pets safe from these hazards is to keep them inside during the last week of October.
Keep Halloween Treats Out of Reach
A big bowl of chocolatey, chewy treats is a popular snack to have out on the kitchen table or counter during the Halloween season and beyond. If your pets like to help themselves to food left out, however, this can be very dangerous. You probably already know that chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is toxic to dogs and cats.
A small dog could easily become very sick from eating a couple of fun-size chocolate bars, and a larger dog could get sick from eating a few more than that. Chewy candies such as caramels and fruit chews are another hazard: Pets can choke not only on the wrappers but also on the candies themselves. They smell sweet and are attractive to both dogs and cats. Even if you have some healthier treats, such as small boxes of raisins and sugar-free gum, you’re not in the clear. Raisins are toxic to dogs, and xylitol—an ingredient commonly found in sugar-free gum—is also toxic to pets. One of the most important Halloween pet safety tips to follow this season is to store candy up out of the way and behind a closed door, preferably in a cabinet that a curious kitty won’t be able to open.
Watch Out for Decorations
You already know which items around the house are likely to catch the attention of your pet, but putting out new decorations can attract a cat’s or a dog’s curious nose or mouth. Some decorations are a choking hazard. Others contain strings or garlands and could become a strangulation hazard. Cats can begin to swallow string and find themselves unable to regurgitate it, causing problems with their digestive tracts. Keep decorations up high and watch your pet for the first day or two after you put them up. If they seem attracted to them and won’t leave them alone, take the decorations down, move them out of reach, or keep your pet in another room when you aren’t home to supervise.
Be Aware of the Fear Factor of Costumes
Your dog might never even consider biting anyone in your household or any of the neighborhood children, but keep in mind that people, even small children, don’t look the same when they are wearing costumes. Masks, hats, and costumes that rustle and make other noises can seem very threatening to your dog. This can result in a potentially dangerous bite. It is best to keep your dog in a bedroom or out of the main living area if your children and other children will be in the home wearing costumes that your pet might find scary.
Don’t Let Them Escape
When you hear the doorbell ring on Halloween, you can smile in anticipation of seeing adorable or scary costumes. Your dog or cat, however, might decide that it’s a great opportunity to make a run for it while you’re distracted.
During the trick-or-treat hours, keep your pet behind a closed door so they don’t run outside while you are filling bags with sweet treats. As a bonus, having them occupied in another room can prevent a dog from barking every time the doorbell rings. If he still barks, consider sitting outside to hand out treats and then shutting off your light once you are done for the evening. These Halloween pet safety tips can help make the holiday more fun and less stressful for everyone involved with just a little bit of planning.