NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Whether it’s toxic treats, constrictive costumes, or autumn activities, this season comes with quite a few health and safety hazards for pets.
Nexstar’s WKRN found a number of pet safety tips from Camp Bow Wow’s animal health and behavior expert, Erin Askeland; the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA); and VCA Animal Hospitals to keep in mind for Halloween and the fall season.
When it comes to Halloween, one of the best things you can do is to leave your pet at home when you go trick-or-treating. As VCA Animal Hospitals explains, the costumes, strangers, and sounds can be overwhelming.
At home, keep your pet in a safe space, preferably behind a closed door and away from the ringing doorbell during trick-or-treating. You can even help block out the noise of the holiday festivities by turning on the television, playing calming music, or setting up a fan.
There are plenty of Howl-o-ween activities to keep your pet entertained, like creating a scavenger hunt by stashing treats around the house for your pet to find.
If there’s a chance of your pet sneaking out the open door while you’re distracted by trick-or-treaters, make sure they have some form of identification on them like a microchip, collar, or ID tag.
If you want to play dress up with your pet, make sure they have a safe and comfortable costume. Experts say you should avoid costumes that:
- Restrict the animal’s movement, hearing, or sight
- Impede their ability to breathe, smell, bark, or meow
- Feature small, dangling, or removable pieces that your pet could chew off and choke on.
Let your pet try on any costumes before Halloween so they can get used to them. If they seem distressed or display unusual behavior, don’t force them to wear the costume. Instead, just give them a festive collar, harness, or bandana.
Never leave a pet in costume without supervision.
You’ll also want to avoid leaving your pet alone with any of the sweet treats you collect.
All forms of chocolate, especially dark and baking chocolate, are toxic for dogs and cats because they contain caffeine and theobromine. These chemicals can impact your pet‘s brain, heart, and muscles. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, changes in heart rate and rhythm, tremors, and seizures.
Raisins can lead to kidney failure and, if they’re covered in chocolate, they’re even more toxic.
Candy corn and other candies made with pure sugar can result in severe gas and diarrhea while bite-sized hard candies pose a major choking hazard, according to Pets Best.
Many sugar-free candies and gum contain a sugar substitute called xylitol, which is also dangerous for dogs, even causing their blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels, leading to seizures and even liver damage.
Even candy wrappers can cause intestinal upset and gastrointestinal blockage. If you think your pet has ingested something toxic, you are urged to immediately call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.
In addition to candy, some decorations and accessories can be dangerous to your pet. That includes fake cobwebs, batteries, toys, power cords, glow sticks, and costume pieces that can lead to choking, internal injury, or illness.
Once Halloween has passed, there are still other fall-related hazards to be aware of if you have pets, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.
That includes items like mothballs and rodenticides, which can be toxic for pets. Experts recommend using pet-friendly options or, when it comes to protecting your home from rodents, contacting a professional.
As you prepare your car for winter months, you may be using antifreeze. You’ll want to be aware of where your pet is because if they consume even a small amount of antifreeze, or any other chemical you’re using on your vehicle, you should take them to receive veterinary care immediately.
If you plan to take your dog out for a walk during hunting season, and you’ll be in an area where hunters may be present, make sure to dress in bright orange or another bright color to make sure you’re visible.
Though it may be colder outside, veterinarians say fleas and ticks can remain active for some time. Your pet may also be exposed to Leptospirosis, a disease caused by Leptospira bacteria found in moist soil or stagnant water. There is a vaccine your pet can receive to protect them.
Some wild mushrooms and fall vegetables like onions and garlic can be harmful to pets as well.
Ultimately, if you are concerned your pet may have encountered or ingested something harmful to them, or if you have any other questions about your pet’s safety, talk to your veterinarian.