NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Whether it’s toxic treats, constrictive costumes, or autumn allergies, this spooky holiday season comes with quite a few health and safety hazards for furry friends.
News 2 found plenty of pet safety tips from Camp Bow Wow’s animal health and behavior expert, Erin Askeland; the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA); and VCA Animal Hospitals to keep in mind ahead of All Hallows’ Eve:
Keep your furry friend at home on Halloween.
- Don’t take your pet trick-or-treating.
- “Scary costumes, a non-stop parade of strangers, squealing children and shouts of ‘trick or treat!’ can be alarming to even the calmest of pets,” VCA Animal Hospitals said.
- Make sure your pet stays in a safe and secluded space inside, away from the ringing doorbell and behind closed doors, especially if they’re anxious or likely to bite someone seen as a potential threat.
- You can even help block out the noise of the holiday festivities by turning on the television, playing calming music, or setting up a fan.
- If there’s a chance of your pet sneaking through the open door while you’re distracted by the trick-or-treaters, make sure they have some form of identification on them before the holiday like a microchip, collar, or ID tag.
- There are plenty of Howl-o-ween activities to keep you and your furry friend entertained:
- Play a game of hide-and-seek by stashing some yummy pet treats around the house for your little monster to find.
- Grab some food, your furry friend, and your friends or family for a screening of a scary movie. Even if the cinematic screams bother you pet, you can set them up in a comfy space with their favorite toy or a special treat so they can spend the rest of the movie happily chewing away.
If you want to play dress up with your pet, make sure they have a safe and comfortable costume.
- According to the National Retail Foundation, Americans are expected to spend a record-high $710 million on Halloween costumes for their animals, with pumpkins, hot dogs, bats, bumblebees, and witches ranking as the most popular pet ensembles.
- No matter how cute they look, avoid costumes that restrict the animal’s movement, hearing, or sight; impede their ability to breathe, smell, bark, or meow; or feature small, dangling, and/or removable pieces that your pet could chew off and choke on.
- Examples of problematic pet ensembles include costumes that are too tight, costumes that are so loose they cause the pet to trip or get caught on other objects, masks or headgear that obstruct certain senses, or hovering accessories (like halos or wings) that startle the pet.
- Let your pet try on any costumes before Halloween so they can get used to it.
- If they seem distressed or display unusual behavior, don’t force them to wear the costume. Instead, just give them a festive collar, harness, or bandana.
- Never leave a pet in costume without supervision.
Don’t feed your furry friend candy.
- All forms of chocolate, especially dark and baking chocolate, are toxic for dogs and cats because they contain caffeine and theobromine. When a pet eats chocolate, these chemicals are absorbed from the gut, which impacts the brain, heart, and muscles.
- The symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, changes in heart rate and rhythm, tremors, and seizures.
- Candy corn and other candies made with pure sugar can result in severe gas and diarrhea while bite-sized hard candies pose a major choking hazard, according to Pets Best.
- In addition, many sugar-free candies and gum contain a sugar substitute called xylitol, which is also dangerous for dogs, even causing their blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels, leading to seizures and even liver damage.
- Meanwhile, raisins sometimes end up in trick-or-treat bags as a healthier alternative to candy – at least for humans. For pets, though, raisins can lead to kidney failure. If they’re covered in chocolate, they’re even more toxic.
- Even candy wrappers can cause intestinal upset and gastrointestinal blockage.
- If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, you are urged to immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
- In order to protect your furry friends, hide those toxic treats in out-of-reach places and give your pet their favorite snack or a homemade treat.
Beware of any potentially dangerous decorations or accessories.
- Watch out for any decorative yet edible items, such as pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, and corncobs, while celebrating the holiday festivities with your pet. Even though such items are relatively nontoxic, they can lead to upset stomachs or digestive blockages for animals who nibble on them.
- You should also keep fake cobwebs, batteries, toys, power cords, and other Halloween decorations and costume pieces that can lead to choking, internal injury, or illness out of your animal’s reach.
- For example, glowsticks can release bad-tasting liquid when chewed, resulting in excessive drooling or strange behavior among pets.
- Another risky decorative choice would be candles, including candle-lit Jack-o’-Lanterns, because they pose a fire hazard, especially when there are tail-wagging canines and furniture-climbing felines at home. However, you can create the same haunting environment using battery-powered candles.
- You can still display your spooky spirit by channeling your creativity into animal-friendly indoor and outdoor decorations. This includes stitching a Jack-o’-Lantern face on a dog bed; turning a cardboard tombstone into a cat condo; or carving, painting, or etching pet-themed pumpkins.
However, there is more to the fall season than just Halloween. VCA Animal Hospitals shared a list of some common autumn hazards for your pets:
- While mothballs certainly help keep moths out of your closet, they also contain chemicals that are toxic for pets that ingest them.
- As a more pet-friendly alternative, you can create or buy a sachet with cedar chips, lavender, or cloves to repel moths.
- As the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, rodents like to look for a cozy, dry spot for the winter. Therefore, you should avoid storing rodent attractants, like grass seed, pet food, or bird seed, in sheds or garages.
- If you want to use rodenticides, you’re encouraged to work with professional exterminators and use pet-proof bait stations.
- If you suspect your pet accidentally ingested rodenticides, contact your veterinarian immediately because that can be deadly.
- You can still keep rodents out by tucking some dryer sheets on shelves, out of your pet’s reach. The dryer sheets’ strong scent serves as a repellant due to rodents’ keen sense of smell.
- When using antifreeze, you should wipe up drips immediately and keep your pet in a secure location. If the animal consumes even a tiny amount of antifreeze, you need to seek immediate veterinary care.
- In many parts of America, hunting season lands in the fall, so when you take your dog out for a walk, avoid popular hunting areas.
- If you do head out into the woods, make sure both you and your dog are wearing “blaze orange” so hunters can spot you.
- Leptospirosis is most common in the rainy fall season; is carried by raccoons, rodents, and possums; and can occur in cities and suburbs.
- This disease is caused by infection with Leptospira bacteria that live in moist soil or stagnant water.
- Dogs can get infected if they come into contact with urine-contaminated soil, water, food, or bedding. However, you can protect your pet from Leptospirosis by vaccinating them
Parasites (fleas and ticks):
- Parasites remain active and feed on pets straight through autumn — and, in the case of ticks, even on warm winter days — so you are encouraged to protect your pet with year-round flea and tick preventives.
- Since the fall harvest is in full gear, you should remember where you’re storing any veggies that are toxic to pets, such as onions and garlic.
- To protect your pets from an accidental poisoning, use an onion box and keep it in a cool and dark place, like a cellar.
- Some wild mushrooms are extremely toxic, but it can be difficult to tell them apart, even for experts.
- Regardless, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so keep your pet away from mushrooms in general. If they still manage to eat any mushrooms, contact your veterinarian right away and, if possible, collect a specimen of the mushroom(s) to show them.