Even if you’re all grown up, you probably get a happy little tingle from the Halloween haunting holiday. Pets, however, often find it truly scary.
The Humane Society of the United States warns that things that make Halloween a treat for humans, such as noise, smells, trick-or-treaters at the door, and people in costumes, can overwhelm many pets. Some elements of Halloween can also present a danger to them.
Below are a few tips to follow prior to the festivities to keep your pet safe.
• Before the trick-or-treating starts, put your pets in a quiet room where they’ll be separated from all the Halloween activity. Even if you’re just having friends over for a party, keep your pets in their safe room, away from the festivities. Masks and costumes change how people look and smell to a pet, so even familiar people may become frightening to them.
• When going out trick-or-treating, leave your dog at home. Dogs can easily get overexcited by the Halloween commotion, and a dog bite or a lost pet can quickly squelch the evening’s fun.
• Remember that most pets are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suit.
• If you do choose a costume for your pet, forgo masks and anything that covers eyes or ears, or could potentially tangle in their legs.
• Make sure the costume is comfortable and allows your pet to move freely.
• Remove any chewable parts or objects that could become detached and turn into a choking hazard.
• If your pet appears uncomfortable, remove the costume. Signs of discomfort include folded-down ears, eyes rolling back or looking sideways, a tucked tail, or hunching over.
• After you’ve released your pet from their safe room, store Halloween treats safely in a high cabinet secured with a lock or child-safety latch. Treats such as chocolate, gum, and xylitol (a sweetener used in many foods) are hazardous to animals.
• Keep treats away from your children when you’re not supervising them. Children may make the harmful mistake of sharing treats with their four-legged friends.
• Keep on hand the number for the 24-hour ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline: 888-426-4435 (the hotline charges a $65 fee per case). If you suspect your pet has eaten something that’s bad for them, call your veterinarian or the Poison Control Center immediately.
Keep Them Away:
• Introduce your pets to their safe room before you decorate indoors. Changes in your home can make your pets, especially cats, nervous or frightened.
• Never leave your pets unsupervised around Halloween decorations.
• Be aware of which decorations pose threats to pets. Some hazards are obvious, such as lit candles (fire hazard and toxic to birds if scented). Other potentially dangerous decorations include: rubber eyeballs (choking risk), glow sticks and fake blood (possibly poisonous), fake cobwebs (choking risk or can entangle pets or wildlife), potpourri (toxic to birds), and strung lights.
• Bring your pets indoors before nightfall. Cats are always safest inside with you, but on Halloween it’s especially important to secure all pets indoors.
• Make sure all pets are wearing tags with current IDs (and consider microchipping them). Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates plenty of opportunities for a pet to slip outside and disappear into the night. Proper ID will help reunite you in the event your pet becomes lost.
• Be mindful that not all of the wild creatures outside will be wearing costumes. You may observe nocturnal animals such as coyotes or opossums foraging for food while you’re trick-or-treating or walking from your car to a party. If you encounter a wild animal, just keep your distance, make a lot of noise, keep your dog safely beside you on a leash, and continue on your way.
Information provided by The Humane Society of the United States