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Halloween Hazards for Pets

halloween hazards blogHalloween can be a fun and exciting fall holiday, but it also presents many hazards for your pets. Below are a few tips for keeping furry family members safe during Halloween:

•If you have candles or votives as part of your decorations, make sure the lighted candles are out of “tail range”. A swiping dog tail could easily knock a candle over. A cat sashaying by a lighted candle might get a burnt tail. Also, keep any decorations with electrical cords safely protected from curious pets.

•Halloween decorations often consist of farm items such as corn stalks, hay bales, pumpkins, and Indian corn. After the holiday, non moldy corn stalks, hay and pumpkins can be fed to your horses, goats and other barn animals. Ear corn can also be safely fed to those animals, but beware of Indian corn around your dog! A dog who chews on dried corn cobs can usually pass any dried corn kernels without much trouble. However, chewed up pieces of corncob are another story. These often become stuck partway through the intestines. Removal usually requires surgery. Dogs with a piece of corncob stuck may vomit, have diarrhea, or alternatively strain without passing stool and generally lose their appetite. If your dog has chewed on any corncobs, observe him carefully and don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian if you notice any changes in his behavior or health.

•Visits from trick-or-treaters can be fun and exciting but most pets are better off skipping the whole scene. Setting your dog or cat up with a quiet space in a room away from the front door is ideal. Even a very social dog may get overwhelmed with all of the “intruders”, especially with some of the wild costumes. For pets prone to anxiety, you can try an OTC anti-anxiety medication for dogs or cats. Many cats will hide when the excitement starts so it’s best if they are in a safe space where you know their location. Just the fact that you will be opening the door frequently and tied up greeting your trick-or-treaters means you won’t be watching closely to make sure your dog or cat doesn’t slip out the door. A frightened pet could easily get lost or hurt in the confusion of the holiday.

•Sadly, cats have an undeserved bad reputation that often pops up around Halloween. This is especially true of black cats. Keep your cats inside and safe from vandalism from a day or two before Halloween to a day or two after. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

•Once the excitement of Halloween night is over, you still need to be vigilant about leftover candy. Cats are generally not into raiding candy bags or chocolate treats but dogs often will. Chocolate toxicity in dogs is due to the caffeine and theobromine contained in the cocoa. These ingredients are stimulants and may cause heart problems in your dog.  Small amounts may cause panting, excitement and anxiety. Large amounts can cause heart arrhythmias and even death. If your dog has made a candy raid, try to estimate how much chocolate he took in. Call your veterinarian for guidance, even if your dog is acting fine at the moment.

With some care and preparation, Halloween can be a safe holiday for your four-legged companions.

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