(Family Features) Costumes and candy make Halloween a highly anticipated event for children and adults alike, but the holiday can be particularly spooky for pets. Some of the same things that bring humans joy on All Hallows Eve can lead to poisoning, stress or anxiety, which may cause four-legged family members to run away or react aggressively.
To help ensure Halloween is fun for every member of the family, take note of these safety tips
from the experts at VCA Animal Hospitals, which has more than 1,000 locations across North America that cared for more than 4.5 million pets last year. Talk to your veterinarian if you need assistance dealing with pet anxiety.
Create a safe space for your pet at home. If your neighborhood is particularly busy on Halloween and the sidewalks are overflowing with exuberant trick-or-treaters, it may be best to leave your pet at home. Pets can be thrown off by extra people on the street or at the door in frightening costumes, which could lead to uncommon reactions such as growling or biting if they feel threatened. Even if your pets are mellow and enjoy greeting guests, consider keeping them inside as you sit by yourself near the door or outside to greet trick-or-treaters as they knock or ring the doorbell. Otherwise, consider keeping your pet in a room away from the frenzy with a TV, radio or white noise machine to dull the sounds.
Be cautious when taking your pet trick-or-treating. If you do decide to venture out with your pet, make sure he or she is always close to you on a secure leash (avoid retractable leashes). Observe your surroundings and assess people – especially friendly, excited children – approaching you and your pet, because physical contact from strangers in costumes may instigate a fearful or aggressive reaction.
Consider skipping the costume. It’s best not to dress up your pets for Halloween, but if you choose to, it’s important for pets to wear safe, comfortable costumes. They should be loose enough to provide freedom of movement but not loose enough to be a tripping hazard. On the other hand, costumes that are too tight can restrict breathing and make movement difficult. Make sure your pet’s costume does not interfere with vision or hearing. Also beware of small parts, like buttons or loose strings, that could be chewed off and swallowed.
Keep treats away from pets. Resist the temptation to share Halloween candy with your pet. In fact, keep all candy safely out of reach. Chocolate, candy or gum artificially sweetened with xylitol can be dangerous for dogs. Plus, cellophane or foil wrappers can cause problems if swallowed. Even natural treats like caramel apples should be off limits as eating items not normally on the menu can cause upset stomachs, GI blockages or pancreatitis.
Decorate with safety in mind. Festive decorations help set the mood, but they can also create health risks for your pet. While non-toxic, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can upset stomachs, especially when consumed in large quantities. Lit candles in Jack-O-Lanterns may pose fire hazards if toppled by a curious four-legged friend. Decorative lights can brighten your porch but should be kept out of your pet’s reach as nibbling on electrical cords can cause electrocution.
To learn more, visit vcahospitals.com, where you can search for additional tips to make Halloween safe and fun for your furry friends.Photo courtesy of Getty Images