While Halloween can be fun for children and adults, veterinarians warn that Halloween for pets can be a different story.
Pets can see Halloween as a stressful time of costume parties, endless doorbell ringing, loud and scary noises in the night and strangers coming and going from the home. Sadly, animals – black cats in particular – are also often terrorised, injured and even killed at this time of year, according to Dr Shayne Thomas, emergency veterinarian at Sydney’s Animal Referral Hospital.
“During Halloween, we often see pets suffering from injuries, accidents and poisoning. Often councils have fireworks, which result in noise-phobic animals escaping, which can then lead to lost pets being hit by motor vehicles,” says Dr Thomas.
Some pets are also poisoned by eating candy and chocolate, which are toxic and can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, pancreatitis, seizures, coma and in extreme cases death, says Dr Thomas.
Chocolate contains a substance known as theobromine that has effects on the nervous system, heart, kidneys and muscles. The side effects depend on the size of the dog and amount and type (percentage of cocoa solids in it) of chocolate ingested. There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity and treatment is aimed at controlling the clinical signs, explains Dr Thomas.
“Last year, a Labrador came in to the ARH with chocolate poisoning. The family had left a basket of chocolate on the front porch for trick-or-treaters but their dog raided it instead!” says Dr Thomas. “Dogs can eat entire bags of Halloween candy, so make sure all treats are out of reach.”
So, if you want to include your pet in the Halloween celebrations, Dr Thomas shares some tips to keep your pet safe:
• Keep your pet indoors at night, especially cats.
• Keep candy, wrappers, decorations and lighted pumpkins out of your pet’s reach.
• Feed treats designed purposefully for pets.
• Wearing a costume can be stressful so don’t dress your pet unless you know they enjoy it.
• If you dress up your pet, ensure the costume doesn’t restrict movement, vision, hearing or ability to breath.
• Avoid pet costumes with small or dangling accessories that can be chewed off and possibly choked on.
• Best not to take your dog trick-or-treating. Dogs may become excited and uncontrollable, and if frightened may bite or escape.
Share your pet Halloween story with us. Is Halloween stressful or welcomed by your pet?