Halloween is upon us. Although this event is full of fun tricks and tasty treats for the whole family, it is not pet friendly. Here are some tips to keep your furry friends safe during the festivities:
GET THE CANDY: Candy is a big no-no for pets, especially chocolate. It is important to store all candy in a safe place out of the reach of pets. Consuming chocolate can cause serious illness for both cats and dogs.
It contains a chemical called theobromine along with caffeine. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine the way humans can. This makes them more sensitive to the effects of chemicals. The amount of theobromine varies depending on the type of chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for dogs. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolates are highly concentrated and contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce, while regular milk chocolate contains about 44-58 mg per ounce.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may take several hours to appear and may last for days. These may include vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, shortness of breath or restlessness, excessive urination, and a rapid heart rate. In severe cases, muscle tremors, seizures and heart failure may occur. It is important to contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate.
Other Halloween treats, such as sugar-free candy, contain xylitol and can cause liver failure in pets.
All candy should be banned. To avoid a potential medical emergency, make sure children don’t try to share their Halloween treats with pets.
LEAVE YOUR PETS AT HOME: My neighborhood goes all out for Halloween. Lots of spooky decorations, costumes, music, rides and lots of families on the streets. It’s a fun time, but maybe not for the pets. The noise and bustle of large crowds and boisterous children can make pets nervous and irritable.
If the dog is a protector, it may perceive others on the street as a threat to its family and may snap at someone, especially if they are in a suit. It is also difficult to keep an eye out for dropped candies that the dog may consume, especially in the dark. Not to mention that decorations, electrical cords, fog machines and more are potential pet hazards.
KEEP PETS INDOORS: Pets aren’t used to all the extra traffic and activity that Halloween can bring. In addition, some people may be tempted to play with a pet in a yard, even a fenced yard. Candy or objects can be thrown at pets, and black dogs and cats are often targeted at Halloween. For your pet’s safety, it’s best to keep them indoors during treat times.
If you must take your pet out, make sure it is on a leash at all times or supervised in a fenced yard.
STAY AWAY FROM THE DOOR: Groups of children ringing the doorbell and yelling “trick or treat” can scare pets, especially dogs and cats who are already timid or nervous and not used to visitors. Pets may also try to escape through the door. Put up a gate or keep them in a room in another part of the home, safe and away from the temptation to welcome visitors or guard their family.
COSTUMES ARE OPTIONAL: What’s more social media-worthy than a pet in an awesome costume? Guess who doesn’t think this is so adorable? The dog (or cat)! Dressing our pets can be very stressful, can impair vision, limit walking and cause adverse reactions. If you just can’t resist the urge to dress up the pet, make sure the outfit is comfortable and never leave a pet in a costume unattended. Take the picture and then remove this suit.
CHECK THESE IDs: A lost pet is no fun any day of the week, but on Halloween the stress can be heightened. Make sure pets have proper identification and a microchip. Incidents can and will happen, even to the best of us. My dog, Stewie, now wears an Air Tag, in addition to being microchipped and wearing a collar with tags, thanks to a recent late-night adventure. I can’t take any chances with a 16 year old deaf dog who loves to roam and has the energy of a young puppy!
OCT 28: A Happy Halloween Howlin’s Adoption Event takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. at Petco, 3520 Veterans Blvd., in Metairie. Come out for some freaking good weather. Meet adorable puppies and dogs in the store. Applications for fostering or adoption are available. For more information: [email protected]
Tracy D. Howerton is the volunteer manager of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a non-profit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more information about ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.