While children of all ages look forward to Halloween each year, the activities surrounding October 31st are frightening and even dangerous for many household pets. Pets are often like small children: it may seem fun to dress them in costume, include them in parties or take them trick-or-treating, but they cannot understand the festivities. When suddenly confronted with strange sights, sounds, and smells, even normally calm pets may become confused and agitated. To protect both Halloween participants and neighborhood animals, it is best to take precautions to ensure the safety and security of pets during Halloween and other holidays.
To protect your pet, follow these simply guidelines:
Confine your pet to a quiet, secure area away from Halloween activities. The constant stream of strangers in costumes at the front door may frighten and even threaten dogs and cats into unpredictable behavior. Also, frequently opened doors are an opportunity for a stressed pet to escape. The best place for your pet is a closed back room in the house or a secure enclosure in the backyard. Make sure your pet is wearing identification that is current and legible. An ID tag is your pet's ticket home.
Keep candy out of reach of pets. The smell of overloaded candy bowls can be very tempting to pets. Not only are many treats dangerous even toxic to pets, but the wrappings may cause serious harm as well. Watch your pets carefully days after the festivities. Signs of intestinal discomfort may indicate ingestion of a foreign food; be sure to consult your veterinarian.
Keep pets away from dangerous Halloween decorations. Burning candles, jack-o-lanterns, streamers, hanging lights, and lawn decorations are hazards to your pet's safety.
Do not force pets into the holiday spirit. It is fun for kids and adults to dress up in costume, but pets consider clothes as restraint. A costumed pet will be confused and uncomfortable. Flowing capes, and restrictive masks can make your pet fearful, destructive, and miserable.
Do not take the family pet out trick-or-treating. With all the excitement and confusion, your pet may be difficult to handle. You may want to take your pet for a walk earlier in the day or skip Halloween all together. Your pet's safety is far more important than one missed walk.
Protect pets from "tricks". While many "tricks" may seem innocent at the time, many pets end up hurt, lost, or worse. Intentional incidents are rare, but Halloween, like many other holidays, results in a busy night for OC Animal Care and veterinarians nationwide. Be aware of "at risk" animals such as free-roaming cats (especially black), exotic animals, unattended livestock, and dark dogs that may have escaped.
The keys to keeping your pet safe are thoughtful preparation, safe confinement, and a watchful eye. Following these guidelines for pet safety will keep Halloween safe and fun, instead of a night of unwanted fright.