Celebrate Halloween Safely with Your Pet Halloween

posted: 05/15/12
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Keep Fido and Mr. Mittens safe this, and every, Halloween season.
GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

Halloween marks that most fang-tastic time of the year when leaves begin to fall, jack o'lanterns light up front porches, and kids of all ages take over their neighborhoods in costumes ranging from scary to silly. Many pet lovers enjoy including their best furry friends in the festivities, but this is one holiday that can cause animals more harm than good if you're unprepared. In this article, learn about four of the most common Halloween pet hazards and how to plan a spook-tacularly pet-safe All Hallows' Eve.

Trick or Treat

Most pet owners know that chocolate is a big no-no, but for the most part all candies -- because they're choking hazards -- are harmful to any pet. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), even diet candy is dangerous thanks to Xylitol, an ingredient commonly used in sugar-free treats. This substance can lead to lowered blood sugar, which in turn causes a variety of serious complications, including liver failure in extreme cases. Candy wrappers are dangerous, too. If your pet ingests one, he could choke or have an intestinal blockage that will result in a trip to the animal hospital. To avoid a candy catastrophe, keep all treats in a container with a lid that seals tight, and don't leave it unattended. If you don't want to leave your pet (or your neighbors' pets) out of the fun, purchase some special dog or cat biscuits as a tasty and safe alternative.

Devilish Decorations

Although it might be fun to turn your house into a haunted one, several Halloween decorations are extremely unsafe for pets. Fake spider webs present a danger to pet birds, which can become entangled in them, as well as other animals, which can choke on them. Candles pose a major fire hazard: An overly excited pet could knock one over or just get too close, allowing the flame to singe its fur. Consider using flameless candles, which you can purchase at most craft stores, instead. If you hang streamers, make sure your pets can't reach them, and avoid any noisemakers that might spook your furry companion. Finally, try to take down all decorations as soon as fright night is over.

Stranger Danger

Unless your pet is extremely social and has participated in Halloween activities before, it's probably best to corral him in a room where he'll be away from the chaos. To keep trick-or-treaters from ringing your doorbell all night, sit outside with the candy. If your pet enjoys tagging along on your own candy-seeking expedition, use reflective tape on his costume or collar so that he's easily visible to cars. Additionally, make sure you have a good, strong leash in case a pint-sized goblin should spook him. As fun as the holiday can be, there's always the potential for trouble with ne'er-do-wells who could harm your pet if he's left outdoors. Make sure your pet is always leashed, accounted for and sleeping soundly inside your home after the festivities are over.

Dressed to Thrill

It's hard to resist getting your pet all dolled up for Halloween, but some animals just don't like it. If yours seems unhappy or uncomfortable, ditch the duds for a festive collar and leash, or a bandana, instead. If your pet relishes the chance to put on a show, take a few precautions to make his costume a safe one. Don't cover his eyes or extremities, and make sure he can always breathe, move and bark freely. Ensure the costume doesn't have any loose strings or embellishments that could be choking hazards, and always keep your pet's I.D. tags on his collar. With these safety tips, your pet can have a howlin' good time. Happy Howl-o-ween!

- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "No Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents." (Sept. 21, 2010)http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/halloween-safety-tips.html

- American Veterinary Medical Association. "Halloween Safety Tips for Pets." (Sept. 21, 2010) http://www.avma.org/animal_health/pawsforpets/halloween.asp

- Sodergren, Brian. "A Tangled Web: Halloween Product Contributes to a Real-Life Horror." Oct. 13, 2006. (Sept. 22, 2010) http://www.hsus.org/pets/pets_related_news_and_event/a_tangled_web_halloween_product _contributes_to_a_reallife_horror.html

- The Humane Society of the United States. "HSUS Offers Tips to Keep Pets Safe from Halloween Tricks and Treats." Oct. 7, 2002.  (Sept. 21, 2010) http://www.hsus.org/press_and_publications/press_releases/hsus_offers_tips_to_keep_pets_safe_from_halloween_tricks_and_treats.html

- The Humane Society of the United States. "Save Your Pets from a Hair-Raising Halloween." Oct. 22, 2009. (Sept. 22, 2010) http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2009/10/halloween_pet_safety_tips_102209.html

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