Special to The Sun
The neighborhood is teeming with ghosts, goblins, witches and princesses. A big bowl of candy is ready by the front door. Children are excited and ready to go trick-or-treating.
While the children, and parents for that matter, are excited for the yearly tradition of going door to door to collect candy, other members of your household may not be quite as thrilled.
Halloween, although fun for children and adults, can be frightening, and even hazardous, for your pets, said Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University.
“Your pets can become alarmed with all of the extra activity in your home, your doorbell ringing often and the strange costumes,” Giedt said. “A lot of dogs feel they are the guardians or protectors of their home. They may feel threatened when a stranger comes into their area and could possibly bite or scratch someone. It’s important for pet owners to make preparations for their animals before Halloween to help keep them from getting scared and confused once all of the activity begins.”
Pet owners may want to consider putting their animals in an area where they will feel safe. This may be in a crate with a favorite toy or treat, or it could be inside a room in the house that is not near all of the activity.
Pet owners also need to be aware of the dangers of animals accidentally ingesting those Halloween treats, especially the chocolate variety.
Giedt said the cocoa in chocolate can be poisonous for cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more deadly it can be. In addition, Xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many types of chewing gum and baked goods, has been shown to be poisonous to dogs.
It is not just the candy itself that can pose a danger to your pets.
“Some pets will consume a piece of candy whole, including the wrapper. This can potentially cause an intestinal blockage,” she said. “If you believe your pet has consumed candy or any other potentially dangerous foods, contact your veterinarian immediately. A quick response could save your pet’s life.”
If you have decorations in your home such as balloons, pumpkins or candles, make sure they are not accessible to your pets. An excited animal could knock over a candle and start a fire or suffer burns.
With the front door opening and closing many times over the course of the evening, it is vital for your animals to have proper identification in the event they get out of the house. A tag with your name and phone number, or microchip identification, will make it more likely for you to be reunited with your pet.
“Halloween can be a lot of fun for children and adults, but nothing can ruin the fun faster than an emergency trip to the hospital, or to the veterinarian because your pet got into the candy bowl or became scared enough to scratch or bite a trick-or-treater,” Giedt said. “Keeping your pet safe during the holiday will help ensure everyone has a fun and memorable evening.”