Pet Talk: Keep your pets safe this Halloween

Vice President Dick Cheney's Labrador retrievers Jackson, left, and Dave, right, prepare for Halloween, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007, as they sit for a photograph at the Vice President's Residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Jackson is dressed as Darth Vader, Dave is dressed as Superman. White House photo by David Bohrer

Halloween is meant to be a fun festivity for all involved. However, for our furry friends, the holiday can turn into a frightful time.

The tradition of trick-or-treating has long been a fun festivity for both children and adults. While we might appreciate the large assortment of chocolate and caramel, Kit Darling, infection control coordinator at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said that all Halloween candy should be kept away from our pets.

“Many candies are toxic to pets, including chocolates,” Darling said. “Candies and gum containing the sugar-free sweetener xylitol are also toxic, so it’s important to keep candy secure from our pets.”

According to Darling, lollipops and candies with plastic wrappers and components can cause intestinal blockage if ingested. Additionally, owners should clean up all trash leftover from the candy.

“Other items to keep away from your pets include candles, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, lights, and electrical cords,” Darling said. “If you suspect your pet has ingested anything harmful, contact the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.”

Another Halloween tradition, dressing in costume, may not be suited for our pets. While they may look adorable dressed as Superman or Cinderella, pets typically do not enjoy the costume experience as much as we do. To ensure your pet is comfortable and dressed appropriately, Darling recommends following these simple guidelines.

“Don’t dress your pet in costume unless you know they are fine with it. Owners should try the costume on their pet before Halloween to ensure it does not restrict their movement, hearing, sight, or breathing. Costumes with lights or batteries are a safety hazard and should be avoided.”

Unfortunately, Halloween is notorious for being a time when pranksters steal, tease, or injure animals. Black cats are especially at risk, so they should be kept indoors several days prior to and after the holiday.

“Continuous doorbell ringing and people dressed in costume may cause anxiety in your pet, so try to put them in a secure location, such as a crate or a room away from the front door,” Darling said. “This will minimize their stress and keep them from running out of the door.”

Pets should always be equipped with some form of identification, but it is especially important on Halloween night, as pets may become frightened and escape from the safety of their home. If you plan to take your pet trick-or-treating this Halloween, be sure to walk them on a leash with a reflective collar or tape.

Halloween should be a festivity enjoyed by adults, children, and four-legged friends, alike. This year, be prepared for the holiday by taking the necessary precautions to make it a safe, fun-filled night for every member of the family.