With Halloween nearly upon us, it’s a good time to brush up on some safety tips to keep our fur kids safe and sound on the spookiest night of the year. My dog is absolutely terrified of fireworks and the week leading up to Halloween I have to coax her outside for her walks. If she hears even one firecracker go off, she’s heading for home at break-neck speed. Lots of dogs are similarly frightened, so first on my list of precautions is to make sure your dog is leashed at all times during your walks.  Similarly, if you’re handing out treats on Halloween evening, either have your dog leashed and tethered away from the door, or safely shut away in another room altogether, so she doesn’t escape whilst you dole out goodies. This practice may also save the day (or rather night) in the event she goes ballastic upon seeing the trick or treat’n ghouls and goblins swarming your front door. 

The ASPCA has some other good tips to ensure the safety of your harried hound:

•    Skip the sweets. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets.  Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs.  Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. “Chocolate, especially baker’s and dark chocolate can also be potentially poisonous to animals, especially dogs,” advises Dr. Hansen. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate and even seizures.

•    Watch out for those wrappers. Cats especially love to play with candy wrappers, but ingesting aluminum foil or cellophane can cause intestinal blockage and induce vomiting.

•    Trick-or-treating is for kids, not pets.  During trick-or-treating hours it is best to keep pets in a room away from your front door.  “Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors constantly arriving at the door, and pets may escape the safety of their home.  Be sure that your pet has identification tags should he or she accidentally get loose,” recommends Gail Buchwald, senior vice president of the ASPCA Pet Adoption Center in Manhattan.  Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags and/or is microchipped.

•    Careful with costumes!  If you dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his movement, hearing, sight or ability to breathe or bark.  Also check the costume for choking hazards. A smart alternative to dressing your pet from head-to-paw? A simple, festive Halloween bandana.

•    Decorations can be dangerous.  Re-think putting candles in Jack-O-Lanterns.  Pets can easily knock over Jack-O-Lanterns and start a fire, and curious kittens are particularly at risk of getting burned by candle flames.  Also take care to prevent your pets from having access to wires and cords from holiday decorations.  If chewed, a wire can damage your pet’s mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock.

•    If your dog or cat accidentally ingests any potentially harmful products and you need emergency advice, please consult your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (a fee applies) or http://www.aspca.org/apcc.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!