With lots of folks headed out soon for trick-or-treating, it pays to give some thought to those furry "kids," our pets, who may be freaked out by all of the odd creatures showing up on our doorsteps.
More and more, people are including their pets in the celebration, joining in on Halloween pet parades and dressing them on Halloween night. However, not every pet likes the loud noises, costumes and general creepiness of the day. To help with pets that don't embrace the macabre or glitter wings, the folks at the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council offer some tips to help keep pets safe until all the goblins go home.
Noise such as constant doorbell ringing and door knocking may stress your pets. Find a quiet room in the house with food, water, litter box or crate and give your pet a safe, quiet haven until it's all over.
Candy and candy wrappers can be toxic to pets. Never leave candy unattended or within reach of your cat or dog. While chocolate is toxic to pets, the wrappers can cause just as must damage. Foil and cellophane wrappers, if ingested, could lead to emergency surgery or death.
If your pet eats candy or other toxic substances, consult your veterinarian, local animal emergency hospital or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. The helpline, which sees a 21 percent increase in the number of calls each Halloween, is staffed around the clock. There is a $39 per incident fee for the consultation and follow-up calls.
Reports of animal cruelty seem to increase during the Halloween season. Keep your pets -- especially black cats -- indoors to reduce the possibility of harmful pranks.
Beware the flame
Be especially careful with your pets around jack-o'-lanterns and other decorations with flames. Cats and dogs have been known to knock over lighted candles, resulting in fires. Consider flameless candles as part of your decor and try to eliminate as many electrical cords as possible to prevent an anxious pet from chewing on them.
If you're going outside with your animals, keep them on a leash. All the excitement and strange sights can cause a normally obedient animal to make a dash for it. Also, make sure they are wearing tags.
For cats and other pets that usually aren't on leashes, be sure to secure them in another part of the house where they won't have the ability to run out of an open door.
To costume or not
There's no denying that our pets look cute in costumes, but some animals just don't like them. If your pet is one of those, don't force him or her into a costume. Experts say it can make them overly anxious.
If your pet is OK with dressing up, be sure the costume doesn't restrict the animal's vision, movement or hearing.
Ask children not to run or make quick movements around animals. These actions could be perceived by your pet as an act of aggression, which could then lead to someone being bitten or scratched. If your pet appears agitated, remove him or her from the action.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.