Halloween Hazards

by: Patrick McGarvey

Halloween can be a fun time for the entire family, and who doesn’t love dressing up their furry family members in cute costumes?  Well, the pets might not be crazy about it, but there are greater concerns for pets associated with this October holiday than the annoyance of wearing a costume for a few hours (although if it’s going to induce an excessive amount of stress you should probably skip it). Many animals will try to sneak some candy given the opportunity. But while they may enjoy the sweet treat, some candy can be very hazardous to pets’ health.  Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to animals.  Symptoms of chocolate ingestion can include nausea and vomiting.  Another candy ingredient toxic to dogs is the artificial sweetener xylitol, which often can be found in sugar free candy and gum.  Xylitol ingestion can cause hypoglycemia, vomiting, weakness, seizures, and liver failure.  Raisins are another Halloween treat which are potentially poisonous to dogs and cats, possibly causing kidney failure if ingested.  Candy wrappers and lollipop sticks can also cause problems if swallowed.  Be sure to keep any candy out of the reach of your pets.

Besides hazardous treats there are other things to be wary of on Halloween.  Jack O’lanterns and any other decorations containing burning candles are a potential fire hazard if in an area accessible to pets.  Flashlights or glow sticks can be a safer light source for Jack 0’lanterns.  Trick-or-treaters can possibly be scary to pets and they may try to run out the door as it’s constantly being opened throughout the evening.  It might be a good idea to keep animals secluded in another room away from the front door, and always keep tag and microchip info up to date just in case one escapes from the house.  If you do decide to dress your pet up in a costume make sure it fits properly and does not restrict the pet’s ability to more or breath, and if it stresses the animal out it’s probably best just to leave it off.  Also, make sure there are no parts of the costume that the animal could chew off and swallow.  It would be best if the costumed pet was in your line of sight as long as he or she is dressed up.

Have an enjoyable holiday, and should your pet have any issues come up please call your vet immediately, or call the animal emergency clinic at (309) 672-1565 in the case of an after-hours situation.