By Janet McAfee
October has arrived, and finally there is a tinge of cooler weather in the air. Halloween kicks off the holiday season at the end of the month. Thanksgiving and Christmas are associated with items potentially dangerous to animals, but Halloween can also pose threats to Fluffy and Fido.
Halloween candy poses the greatest threat to both cats and dogs, and great care must be taken to keep it out of reach. Some big dogs have been known to jump on kitchen counters to steal a snack, and too much candy can send him to an expensive veterinary appointment. Keep candy containers off coffee tables. The following list will help your animals safe.
- Candy, particularly chocolate and candy made with artificial sweetener, is poisonous to most animals. Depending on the size of the animal, large amounts of candy can prove fatal. Call poison control and your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet ingested candy. Tin foil and cellophane wrappers are hazardous if swallowed.
- Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener is very harmful to dogs and cats. It can lead to life threatening toxicosis. Consequences include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure, and even death. Be careful with that pack of sugarless gum in your purse. Seek veterinary care immediately if your pet ingests candy or gum with xylitol.
- If you are enjoying a holiday cocktail, don’t set it down where Fido or Fluffy can sample it.
- Don’t leave your dog or cat outside on Halloween. There will be lots of folks walking and driving around most neighborhoods, and sadly some of them have evil intent. There is a rise in pet theft, and thieves can quickly steal your pet and sell it for easy drug money. Black cats are particularly vulnerable to people who might want to harm them. Visitors may leave gates unlocked causing your dog to escape. Left outdoors, Fido will create a neighborhood nuisance with his barking at trick-or-treaters.
- Be careful with candle-lit pumpkins. Your pet could knock one over and start a fire. He could get burnt by getting too close to one of these decorations. Better yet, buy pumpkins that are artificially lit.
- We humans enjoy putting festive costumes on pets. While some animals enjoy the attention others (particularly cats) find dressing up stressful. Make sure costumes don’t constrict or contain dangerous items they can ingest like glued on sequins and plastic parts.
- Keep your animals in a separate back room during trick-or-treat time, unless they are super friendly and not likely to escape from the open front door. Animals can become stressed from seeing too many strangers masked and in costume.
- Be vigilant about not keeping your front door open when you pass out Halloween candy. Step outside and close the door behind you when you pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. It only takes a few seconds for a frightened dog or cat to dash out into the night. Always have ID tags with your cell phone engraved in case anyone escapes any day of the year.
- Cats don’t give you a warning back when they slip out the door undetected. They are also less likely to return home on their own when on the run. KEEP YOUR CATS AND DOGS IN A BACK ROOM WITH THE DOOR CLOSED ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT.
- Keep pet emergency phone numbers on your cell phone. The pet poison hotline is (800) 213-6680. VCA on Jefferson Street in Indio is the only 24-hour veterinary hospital in the Coachella Valley, (760) 609-0624.
Happy Halloween! Enjoy all the festive Halloween events happening this year and stay safe.