Trick-or-treaters will soon be roaming our neighborhoods and while Halloween is great fun for children of all ages, it can be a dangerous time for the family pet.
Dr. Bryan Robinson, Best Friends Pet Care’s Veterinary Expert and a practicing veterinarian for the past 15 years, offers the following advice to keep the family pet safe, happy and healthy during the haunted season.
Feed Your Pet Treats Only – Do not give pets candy or other human treats. “Even small quantities of chocolate can cause life-threatening heart problems, while treats made with the artificial sweetener xylitol (like sugar-free gum) can cause rapid low blood sugar and liver failure,” says Dr. Robinson. Candy with high sugar content can also be hazardous; and candy wrappers or plastic treat bags can cause internal obstruction if eaten. “If you notice any symptoms of sickness – lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea or excess agitation – get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.”
Decorate with Caution – Keep burning decorations well out of pets’ reach. A wagging tail can knock over a lit candle or small jack-o-lantern, causing injury to the pet – and the possibility of fire. Other Halloween decorations and small pieces from kids’ costumes can cause gastrointestinal and choking hazards. Dr. Robinson advises seeking veterinary attention if you suspect your pet has swallowed a toy or decoration.
Choose Costumes with Care -- If you’d like your pet to join the Halloween festivities by sporting a costume, Dr. Robinsons recommends choosing one that one doesn’t impair his vision or ability to walk. “Introduce it to the animal gradually, letting him smell it and try it on for short periods of time prior to Halloween. For your own safety, don’t force the issue if it’s clear he isn’t happy wearing a costume.”
Bring All Pets Indoors — Never leave pets outdoors unattended on Halloween; they can become the victims of Halloween pranksters. Black cats, in particular, are at risk for cruel tricks, but any pet can become a target.
Keep Pets on Leash. Doorbells, shouting children and masks create anxiety for many pets. Even those comfortable with the noise and activity should be leashed or confined behind a gate so they can’t run out an open door. “If your pet is the anxious type, get him away from the scary sights and sounds to a safe, relaxed environment,” suggests Dr. Robinson. “A quality kennel like Best Friends Pet Care provides the attention of caring humans and the company of other dogs – giving owners peace of mind to relax and enjoy Halloween with their human children.”
Editor’s Note: Dr. Robinson will be a regular contributor to Best Friends new blog when it launches later this year, offering advice on topics relating to pet health and well-being. He has been a member of the professional team at Best Friends Veterinary Hospital since 1997. He holds BS degrees in Biomedical Science and Veterinary Science, as well as a Doctor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Robinson is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association.