Potential Hazards Can Be Scary
As North Carolinians and proud members of the Raleigh community, we sure do love our pets! We also love Halloween. Whether it's taking the kids to "The Great Raleigh Trolley" for their rides, touring through Raleigh's "Historic Oakwood" seeing the creepy decorations, or roaming through Hill Ridge Farms' great pumpkin patch in the Wake Forest area, (sadly not this year) Halloween can be a fun event for families and their pets. However, if safety precautions aren’t taken, it can also be a hazardous time for our four-legged companions.
According to Dr. Justine Lee, a veterinary emergency critical care specialist and author of books on pets, calls increase by 12 percent during the week of Halloween, making it among the busiest times of year for emergency veterinary practices.
Here are some practical yet potentially life-saving tips that can help protect your pets on Halloween.
1. Dangerous Pet Costumes
Your safest choice in a pet Halloween costume would be a loosely tied bandana; however, if you choose to dress up your pet, outfit your dog or cat with a simple approach. Pets can become tangled in elaborate, tight-fitting costumes with strings, ties, belts and sashes. Difficulty in mobility can lead to bodily injury, including strangulation.
Never leave a pet unattended while wearing a costume. Small (or large) parts of a costume can become chewed and ingested and can in turn potentially lead to foreign body ingestion which can be life threatening to your pet.
2. Halloween Decorations and Fire Hazards
If you like to decorate your home in the Halloween spirit, take into consideration what you're putting on display and where the decorations will be placed. Easy-to-reach decorations — or candles — can be eaten or knocked over, potentially leading to choking, foreign body ingestion, electrical shock and even burns and a household fire.
Err on the side of caution while decorating and choose pet-safe products.
3. Noise Affects Pets
Dogs and cats can become skittish and anxiety ridden on Halloween due to the incessant ringing of the doorbell, constant squeals and chatter just outside the door, and small fireworks set off in the street.
In addition, the barrage of strangers dressed in unfamiliar and scary costumes can alarm some pets, increasing their anxiety. Take extra precaution on Halloween: gauge your pet's typical reaction while greeting visitors and decide if putting up a baby gate or leaving your dog or cat in a back room of the house would keep them calmer throughout the evening.
4. Candy and Chocolate Are Toxic
Candy and chocolate are never good for dogs or cats and on Halloween there is an increased chance that Fluffy and Fido may consume treats meant for tricksters.
- Chocolate and xylitol, a sweetener found in many candies, can be extremely toxic to pets.
- Lollipops and their sticks can be choking hazards and cause a painful obstruction or foreign body ingestion that may require surgery to remove.
- Candies wrapped in plastic and other types of wrapping can also lead to chocking or cause an obstruction and upset stomach.
Easy solutions to prevent accidental toxicity or ingestion:
- Keep pet-safe treats on hand to satisfy your curious pet.
- Make sure all candies are out of your pet's reach.
- Consider leaving your pet in another part of the house where exposure to hazards is impossible.
5. Lost Pets
Halloween isn't an ideal time to let your dog or cat wander outside unattended. While there aren't any documented reports or statistics to indicate that pet abduction increases on Halloween, be mindful that a prankster or a mean-spirited individual could be inspired to mess with your pet.
Take caution and keep pets indoors with you, or escort them outside on a leash if you plan on including your pet in neighborhood festivities. Sudden noises and strange-looking costumes can also spook your pet, causing them to run away, therefore, it’s always a good idea to adorn your pet with a collar and identification tags in case you become separated.
If you haven’t already opted to have your pet microchipped, now is a great time. Should your pet become lost, an ID tag and/or a microchip can help quickly reunite you with your dog or cat.
Emergency Care is Available
Don’t wait to have your pet treated in the case of an emergency. Locate a 24-hour veterinary clinic if your family veterinarian is not available.
If you suspect your pet has consumed a toxic substance during Halloween and you can’t see your veterinarian, Nationwide members can use a 24-hour service that assists pet owners, veterinarians and veterinary technicians who are treating potentially poisoned pets.
For local help, call our Wake Forest agency at (919) 554-0475. Thanks for being part of our Raleigh community!