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Halloween Pet Dangers Can Be Spooky!

Avoid halloween dangers for your pets. Even costumes might not be as much fun for your pets as they are for you.
Halloween can be a lot of fun; it can also be fatal to your pet!

During the run-up to Halloween especially that night, calls to veterinarians and poison hotlines increase dramatically. The largest single cause involves pets that accidentally ingest Halloween candy, decorations or other material.

Some of the most common dangers involve chocolate, candy wrappers, raisins and candy wrappers. Others are more obscure. Here’s a good list to start with:

• Chocolate: many people know that chocolate is not good for their pets, but most may not realize that chocolate in fact is one of the most problematic candies for cats and dogs, which cannot metabolize chocolate properly and may actually become poisoned. Dark or baking chocolate is especially dangerous. Dogs are often attracted to chocolate. Keep all candy and especially chocolate out of the reach of any pet.

• Overeating: While chocolate is especially dangerous, any candy in excess can be hazardous to your pet. While humans often eat too much candy, pets don’t have even the “stop button” of a human over-eater and are almost guaranteed to keep eating until candy is gone. This can cause a number of problems that are potentially painful and even fatal to your pet. Again, the solution is to keep candy out of a pet’s reach.

• Grapes and raisins: Dogs, especially, can be fatally poisoned by grapes and raisins, which many people favor for Halloween because they are healthier for humans. But dogs and cats can suffer serious kidney failure after eating them so, again, keep them out of reach of your pets!

• Candy wrappers: Candy wrappers are a special danger because they often contain foil or cellophane that will retain the scent of candy, if not crumbs or more. Cats and especially dogs may ingest them and experience a life-threatening bowel obstruction that may require surgery. Wrappers can also pose a danger to birds or other pets because of their shiny surface.

• Glow sticks and jewelry: When a pet chews or punctures through a glow stick or jewelry item and contacts the contents, that can be extremely painful or irritating. Watch for foaming at the mouth or drooling. Cats are often more prone to this.

• Costumes: This is another increasingly widespread danger. Many people like to dress their pets in costumes, but the pet might not enjoy it and even be in serious danger. Don’t dress your pet and step out without first trying a test run to ensure the pet doesn’t get excited or frantic with this new constriction. If you must dress your pet in a costume, be sure it doesn’t impair the pet’s vision, movement or breathing. Just as you would with a small child, make sure the costume does not have any metallic beads, snaps or other small pieces that could be ingested and lead to poisoning. Never dye or apply coloring to a pet’s fur, as it could be poisonous, even if labeled safe for humans. Try on costumes before Halloween. If your pet appears distressed, allergic or shows unusual behavior, consider skipping the costume.

• Candles, torches and other sources of flame: Wagging tails, jumping cats or even flying birds are a big danger around flame, especially if the flame involves something new in the pet’s environment. Some candles also contain an artificial sweetener that can cause problems. Candle dangers even include candles inside of carved pumpkins.

• Trick or Treating: This can be dangerous for pets like dogs for the same reason it’s tricky for small children. They may bolt in front of traffic and can be hard to see. Leashes are an obvious answer and may be required by local laws. A reflective vest or colar is also a good idea. Be sure a traveling pet has proper ID. If you stay at home, remember your pet may not welcome trick or treaters, so if you’re handing out treats, it might be best to put the pet in a back room or basement.

If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.