Halloween can be a scary time for your children with all the goblins and ghouls that roam the streets. While you can explain to your children that it is nothing more than make-believe, you cannot do the same for your four-legged family members. Halloween has the potential of being dangerous and even fatal to your pets. Looking out for their well-being does not take a lot of effort and can potentially save you money and your pets’ lives.
The days leading up to Halloween, animal shelters all over the country see an increased number of animals. To ensure that your companion pet does not end up in the local animal shelter or roaming the streets, take a few moments before the trick-or-treaters arrive to secure your pets in a room somewhere away from all the action. Find a room that will not be disturbed and as far away as possible from the front door during the witching hour. Don’t forget to put food, water and a favorite toy in the room and, if securing your cat, be sure to put a litter box in there as well. Also, double-check that your pets have proper and up-to-date identification on them. The constant knocking on the door, ringing of the bell and sudden appearance of strange people can be very stressful for an animal and could lead to your pet escaping.
If your companion pet is a black cat, be certain to confine it in your home at least a week before Halloween and in the few days afterward. Black cats are still viewed with superstition and are often injured, teased and killed around Halloween. However, black cats are not the only animals victimized during this time of the year so, as a precaution, keep your pets in the house in the days leading up to and following Halloween.
REMEMBER: The nicest, sweetest dog can lash out and bite someone if he or she is fearful, stressed, provoked or being protective. As a precaution, walk your dog before the trick-or-treaters come out and leave him or her at home while you are out making the neighborhood rounds with your little ones. This will ensure that Fido doesn’t turn into Cujo.
Although dressing up an animal may be cute or considered an accessory to your costume, it can be confusing to your pet. If you have decided to dress up your pet, make sure that the costume does not restrict his or her breathing, vision, hearing, movement or ability to bark or meow. Also, NEVER use rubber bands or other constrictive ties to hold your pet’s costume in place. These pose the danger of restricting blood flow and can be extremely harmful to your pet.
STAY ALERT: Don’t let your pet pick up any small accessories that may have fallen off of your or your children’s costumes. These are choking hazards that can lead to a costly vet visit and may even possibly cost your pet his or her life. Along with costume accessories, watch out for candy wrappers, sucker sticks, and any loose items. All of these can be equally harmful.
Candy should be kept away from your pets. These are treats for humans, not animals. Chocolate, especially, can be fatal to many breeds of animal, so make it a point to keep all candy in a secure location where your pet cannot get to it. As an added measure put the candy in a closed container that your pet cannot break into or chew open.
When decorating, be careful to place jack-o-lanterns up high enough so that they are out of your pet’s reach. Animals are naturally curious, and can easily put their noses up to the jack-o-lantern and burn themselves. There’s also the danger that they might knock over a jack-o-lantern and start a fire. Generally, if you have children or pets, the safest choice is to avoid decorating with candles or any open flame. Also, see to it that all streamers and other decorations are securely fastened so your pet does not become entangled or ingest them.
With a little planning and a few precautions, you can prevent a happy holiday from turning into something truly dangerous and scary. Make this Halloween a safe one for you, your family and your family pets.
This SPCA International article is intended to help further your understanding of your animal's needs. We understand your unique bond with your pet and it is our pleasure to help you look after its welfare. Thanks to your continued support, SPCA International is able to provide you and countless others with important news regarding the safety of your pets. Thank you again for your donations – every little bit helps!