Halloween is just around the corner, and many people will start celebrating this weekend! It’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, so be sure to consider the well being of your pets. Follow these guidelines to make sure your pets stay comfortable and safe.
1. Chocolate: Keep your candy bar stash out of paw’s reach. Chocolate contains theobromine, a caffeine-like substance that is toxic to pets, especially dogs, at high doses. The toxic dose is around 100 mg for every 2.2 lbs. of body weight. To determine the approximate toxic dose for your dog, take your dog’s weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2, then multiply by 100. (Example for a 25 lb. dog: 25/2.2 = 11.36, 11.36 X 100 = 1136 mg, or 1.1 g). Don’t rely on numbers when it comes to your pet’s safety, though. Different chocolates have different levels of theobromine (dark chocolates are more dangerous than milk chocolates), and every pet will respond differently depending on various factors (health, age, diet, etc.). If you suspect your pet has eaten any dangerous amount of chocolate, call your vet immediately. Theobromine poisoning can lead to intestinal problems, increased blood pressure, and potentially fatal problems in the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
2. Other candy: Keep those paws and mouths away from suckers and other candies too! Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar substitute found in some candies and gum that can lead to serious problems for pets, particularly dogs and ferrets (see this report from the FDA for more info.) Xylitol aside, any candy can easily be swallowed whole and contain sticks and wrappers that could cause your pet to choke.
3. Decorations: Keep them out of harm’s way to avoid ingestion or other accidents.
4. Alcohol: If you’re throwing a party for adults, keep those drinks off of tables where your pet can reach!
5. Costumes: There aren’t many pets who are thrilled to be in costume, but if your pet has a history of anxiety it might be best to ditch the costume altogether. If your pet doesn’t mind, make sure the costume fits properly, doesn’t cover any part of the nose, mouth, or eyes, and doesn’t contain any parts that could be easily chewed on or become caught. Consider your costume too – if it’s really extreme, you might actually frighten your pet and significantly elevate their stress level.
6. Halloween night: When handing out treats, keep your pets secure, on leash, or in a different room so they can’t bolt out the door. If you have an anxious pet, it may be best to keep them in a room away from trick-or-treaters.