Keeping your pets safe on Halloween doesn’t have to be tricky. The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is offering the following tips to help pet parents avoid potential hazards as they celebrate Halloween this October.
“Many of our favorite Halloween traditions could pose a potential threat to our companion animals,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, board-certified veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president, ASPCA Animal Health Services, which includes the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, Ill. “So as you start to make plans for trick-or-treating or Halloween costumes, pet parents should be aware of Halloween-related products and activities that can be potentially dangerous to pets.”
Here are just some of the ways animal lovers can keep their pets safe this Halloweensummer:
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 www.aspca.org/apcc. For more information on having a fun, safe Halloween with your pets, please visit www.aspca.org.
About the ASPCA® Animal Poison Control Center
Established in 1978, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the only 24-hour, 365-day facility of its kind staffed by five veterinary assistants, 10 certified veterinary technicians, nine board-certified toxicologists/veterinary toxicologists and 16 veterinarians. Located at the ASPCA’s Midwest Office in Urbana, Ill., the specially trained staff provides assistance to pet owners, and specific diagnostic and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances. In 2007, the center handled over 130,000 cases. The center also provides extensive veterinary toxicology expert consulting on a wide array of subjects, including legal cases, formulation issues, product liability, and regulatory reporting.
About the ASPCA®
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. A 501 [c]  not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited, animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org.