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Halloween Can Be Stressful for Pets

While most kids and adults know the scariness of Halloween is only pretend, dogs and cats often find this holiday truly frightening. Between the non-stop knocking at the door, people dressed in strange costumes, tempting treats, and the seasonal decorations that appear suddenly, Halloween is confusing and stressful from a pet's perspective. The good news is that you can make things more comfortable for your pet. She may still not enjoy Halloween, but she will at least be able to tolerate it.

Keep Your Pet at Home and in a Safe Place

If you're taking your own children out trick-or-treating, it's best to leave your dog at home where he and everyone else will be safe. Going from door to door may confuse him and make him so over-excited that he acts out of character by running off or trying to attack someone.

The same is true when the trick-or-treaters come to your house. To a pet, an open door is an invitation to dart outside and away from the chaos. Be sure to prepare a comfortable space for your pet in an enclosed room before the evening's activities get underway and keep him there until you're sure you have received the last visitor. Black cats are especially at risk of becoming the victim of a cruel prank on Halloween night.

Place Decorations and Goodies Out of Your Pet's Reach

Decorating for the season can be fun if you do it with your pet's safety in mind. The following items tend to be the most hazardous to dogs and cats:

  • Lit candles, because your pet can burn herself or start a fire
  • Strung lights and rubber eyeballs can present a choking hazard
  • Fake cobwebs may present a danger to wildlife when placed outside and can entangle your pet when inside
  • Potpourri is toxic to birds

If you plan to hang cardboard decorations, place them high enough on the door or wall that your pet can't reach them.

It's important that you never share candy with your pets on Halloween or at any other time of year. Anything containing the artificial sweetener Xylitol or chocolate is especially toxic for animals. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, seizures, and many other symptoms. If you really want to share something with your pet, make sure that it's a treat made just for her species.

Exercise Caution with Pet Costumes

According to the Humane Society of the United States, more than half of pet owners say that they dress up their dog or cat for Halloween. Pumpkin and ladybug costumes seem to be the favorite. If you choose to buy or make a costume for your pet, make sure it doesn't cover her eyes or nose or become tangled in her legs. Additionally, remove any parts that present a potential choking hazard.

Seek Immediate Help in an Emergency

Sometimes accidents happen despite precautions and careful supervision. Be sure you know the emergency phone number for your veterinarian well in advance of the holiday as well as the clinic's hours of availability. If you can't get to your own clinic, you may need to take your pet to a 24-hour emergency veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline.

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