Protect Your Pet From Halloween Mishaps
Halloween is a fun time for children and adults, but the spooky holiday can be dangerous for your pet. Before you don your Halloween costume, take steps to protect your four-legged friend. Our Island Animal Hospital team wants to explain potential mishaps your pet may encounter on the scary night.
A concerned citizen brought a female black and gray tabby cat to the local animal shelter on November 1. The cat was roaming the neighborhood and had no collar or identification tags, but fortunately, was microchipped. The shelter employees were able to find her owners, and return Tiffany to her family.
Island Animal Hospital (IAH): Halloween can be scary for pets. Strangers in odd clothing are roaming the streets, people are laughing and talking loudly, and the doorbell rings incessantly, revealing small creatures in weird costumes looking for candy. This commotion can be stressful for pets, who may decide to escape to find a quieter place to pass the evening. Tips to protect your pet include:
- Properly identify your pet — Microchip your pet before the spooky evening, and ensure they are wearing a collar and identification tags with your current contact information.
- Keep your pet inside — Keeping your pet inside not only prevents them from running away, but also protects them from rowdy people seeking to harass a pet as part of their Halloween fun.
- Create a quiet zone — Ensure your pet has a quiet escape area should they get overwhelmed by the evening’s festivities. If your pet is anxiety-prone, consider sequestering them in this area for the night. Ensure they have their necessities, and leave music playing to help mask outside noises.
A 2-year-old male black Labrador retriever named Oscar was brought to the hospital after he raided the family’s 4-year-old son’s Halloween haul. Oscar was exhibiting signs including vomiting, diarrhea, and increased heart rate. The veterinary team induced vomiting, administered intravenous fluids, and monitored Oscar overnight. He was clinically normal in the morning, and happily returned home.
IAH: Many Halloween treats are toxic to pets and, if the candy wrappers are also ingested, they can create a gastrointestinal obstruction. Treats that are toxic to pets include:
- Chocolate — Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, ingredients that cause toxicity in pets by stimulating the central nervous system, resulting in signs that include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and increased heart rate.
- Xylitol — Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free candies and gum, and causes hypoglycemia in pets. At high doses, xylitol can also lead to liver failure. Signs include vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, and seizures.
- Raisins — Raisins and grapes contain an unidentified toxin that causes kidney failure in pets. Signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, and increased thirst and urination.
Lola, a 1-year-old corgi, was brought to her veterinarian after mistaking a glow stick for her chew toy. She had chewed through the stick, and the liquid inside had leaked into her mouth. She was drooling and pawing at her mouth. Luckily, the liquid inside glow sticks isn’t toxic to pets, but the substance can irritate their mouth. The veterinary team lavaged Lola’s mouth and she was able to go home.
IAH: Decorating for Halloween is part of the fun, but several common spooky decorations are hazardous for pets, including:
- Candles — Lit candles are a great way to create a spooky atmosphere, but if a stray tail or inquisitive paw topples the flame, they can cause a fire. Keep all candles out of your pet’s reach, or opt for battery-operated candles.
- Novelty objects — Many people enjoy decorating with novelty items such as fake eyeballs or plastic spiders, but your pet may decide to ingest the decorations, and end up with a gastrointestinal blockage. Keep all small objects out of your pet’s reach.
- Electrified decorations — Twinkling lights and moveable decorations are fun, but many pets are tempted to chew on electrical cords, resulting in a shocking situation. If you use electrified decorations, ensure the cords are contained.
- Dry ice — Dry ice can burn the respiratory system and digestive tract if your pet inhales or ingests the substance.
Dexter, a 5-year-old male dachshund, was taken to his veterinarian for urgent care for a wound under his armpit. His owner had dressed him in the cutest hotdog costume for Halloween, but the outfit was too tight around his legs and had slightly abraded his hind limbs and left front limb, and caused a deep wound on his right front limb. The veterinary team cleaned the wound thoroughly, and provided antibiotic ointment for the owner to apply twice a day. Dexter’s wound was healed at his recheck appointment a week later. His owner won’t be dressing him in any more costumes!
IAH: Dressing up your pet for Halloween can be fun, but you must take appropriate steps to protect your pet, including:
- Ensuring the costume fits — Ensure the costume properly fits your pet. Check their limbs and neck to ensure the fabric doesn’t impinge or rub their skin.
- Removing loose pieces — Remove any loose pieces that your pet may swallow and become an obstruction.
- Listening to your pet — If your costumed pet expresses stress or anxiety, don’t force them to wear the outfit. A cute picture isn’t worth upsetting your pet.
Halloween is a fun time, but you should take steps to help ensure your pet doesn’t encounter a mishap. Whether your pet is due for their wellness appointment, or they get into mischief and require urgent care, contact our Island Animal Hospital
team, so we can help.