Halloween celebrations may look a little more spooky this year, but the pumpkins, candy, and decor are the comforting cues that the holidays have arrived. From costumes and sweet treats, to pumpkin carving and haunted houses, it’s no surprise that our furry friends want to get in on the Halloween action. However, danger can lurk around every haunted corner for pets. But, have no fear—Medina Veterinary Clinic knows the top four tricks to keep the ghosts away from your furry ghouls.

Trick #1: Keep candy in pet-proof containers

Candy corn, chocolate, and all things pumpkin can tempt not only people, but also the most well-trained pets. However, the most popular Halloween candies contain toxic ingredients to pets, including chocolate. All chocolate varieties contain some level of the stimulant methylxanthine, specifically caffeine and theobromine, which can be deadly in dogs, although milk chocolate is less dangerous than dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate. If ingested, pets may experience vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, and possible death, with the degree of illness based on a pet’s weight and the chocolate amount.

A box of raisins, arguably the healthiest but least favorite halloween treat, is more toxic than its sweeter chocolate counterpart. For some dogs, as little as one raisin can have toxic effects on their kidneys that can result in irreversible damage. Clinical signs can occur up to two hours after ingestion, and include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, and excess urination.  

Beware of sugar-free treats, which often contain the  sweetener xylitol. A small quantity of xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, and can result in seizures, liver failure, or death in some cases. 

Candy wrappers are also the stuff of Halloween nightmares. Pets typically will not discriminate between the candy wrapper and the treat, and wrappers can lead to upset stomachs and, in more severe cases, intestinal blockages that require surgical removal. Call our Medina Veterinary Clinic office or ASPCA Poison Control immediately if you suspect your pet had their paws in the candy jar. 

Trick #2: Don’t let decor become deadly

Festive pumpkins and corn stalks are common Halloween decor that may be alluring to investigative pets. Although not toxic, ingesting large quantities of pumpkin can result in gastrointestinal distress. Decorative foods, such as apples, corn, squash, and pumpkin, can also develop molds toxic to cats and dogs, and corn cob ingestion can lead to intestinal blockages that may require surgical removal. 

Candles and twinkling lights add the finishing touch to any haunted home, but ensure that all wires, batteries, and candles are kept out of a pet’s reach to mitigate the chance of electric or chemical burns. Also, never leave a pet unattended with access to candles. Curious cats can easily knock over jack-o’-lanterns, leading to singed tails or home fires. 

Trick #3: Use caution with costumes

Pet costumes are a popular way to include our four-legged companions in the festivities. Last year alone, more than 20 million people purchased costumes for their pet. Follow these  guidelines when dressing up your pet:

  • Ensure the costume is not too tight, or too loose.
  • Choose lightweight costumes that don’t add stress to joints.
  • Never cover the pet’s nose or mouth, or restrict breathing. 
  • Don’t cover eyes or ears, to ensure vision and hearing are not obstructed.
  • Check for any areas that are rubbing the skin or causing discomfort.
  • Beware of choking hazards. 
  • Avoid costumes that obstruct natural movements (i.e., ensure your pet can urinate, defecate, and walk normally at all times).
  • Monitor behavior and body language, and remove the costume immediately if you see signs of stress.
  • Secure all loose ties or straps to prevent tangled paws and claws.
  • Attach reflective tape or safety lights during evening walks to ensure visibility to passing cars. 
  • Never leave costumed pets unattended.

If your pet vetoes a costume, a festive collar or bandana are perfect alternatives. 

Trick #4: Reserve the party for the people

Your family gathering may be small, but it’s still easy to become distracted or accidentally leave doors open, and give your pet the perfect opportunity to take their own Halloween adventure. Always keep an identifiable collar or tag with your current contact information on your pet, as well as ensuring that your pet’s microchip is registered with correct contact numbers. During any party, no matter how small, put pets in a designated safe area, such as a bedroom or crate. Always avoid exposing pets to loud music or spooky sounds, and instead play soft music in their designated area to decrease stress and drown out celebratory sounds. 

The Medina Veterinary Clinic team wishes you a ghoulishly good Halloween, and hopes you and your pets stay healthy and safe. Should your creatures get into some Halloween trouble, call our office. We are always ready to help.