Howl-O-Ween Safety Tips

cat with a pumpkin

Costumes, treats, parties and more make Halloween a beloved family tradition across Long Island. But, did you know that it’s one of the most dangerous days of the year to be a family pet? According to the Pet Poison Hotline, it receives a 12% increase in the number of critical care and toxicology calls during the week of Halloween, making it the organization’s busiest time of the year. And, it’s the second most common holiday for pets to go missing, behind the Fourth of July.

At Central Veterinary Associates, we encourage everyone to be considerate of pets – whether it’s a member of their own family or that of a house on your trick-or-treat route. Here are some things to remember this Halloween:

No Sweets for You!
Well, at least not for your four-legged family members. It’s no secret that chocolate – especially dark chocolate – can be toxic to cats and dogs, but candies with xylitol (an artificial sweetener) can also cause serious problems for pets. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and seizures in cats or dogs, while even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, loss of coordination and seizures for dogs. Further, if ingested, candy packaging and lollipop sticks can cause blockage in their throats and damage to their stomach or intestines. If your pet ingests candy or a wrapper, remember to monitor them closely for early signs of toxicity or injury and contact your local CVA for treatment.

Trick-or-Treating Scares
It’s no secret that costumed trick-or-treaters are a significant part of Halloween, but consider the stress that this might put on your pet. Not only is the constant doorbell ringing by strangers with masks yelling for candy sure to scare your furry friends, but the constant opening of the front door provides the perfect opportunity for them to flee. Be sure to keep them in a secure room as far from the front door as possible, with their bed and other comfort items, as well as ample water and food. In the event that your pet does become lost, proper identification is the best way to guarantee they are returned. Be sure to have your pet microchipped and always put them in a collar, with up-to-date information on their ID.

While the Owner’s Away, Tricksters Might Play
According to PetMD, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, steal, injure and sometimes even kill pets on Halloween. Black cats are said to be especially at risk from these incidents. So much so that many shelters will not adopt out black cats during the month of October in order to keep them safe, and pet safety experts suggest keeping family cats inside for several days surrounding Halloween. All pets should remain indoors on Halloween to prevent the risks presented by unfriendly visitors to the home, and, as mentioned above, proper ID is key.

Spooky Décor Warnings
Seasonal décor, even those as basic as pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns, pose a risk to your pets. Halloween plants, including hay, cornstalks, mums and pumpkins, while relatively non-toxic, can cause gastrointestinal problems or intestinal blockages if ingested. Jack-o-lanterns, meanwhile, have a potential to burn a pet who gets to close and they also present a possible fire hazard, should they get knocked over by a four-legged friend. If you’re a fan of decorations that, literally, go bump (howl, scream, you name it) in the night, be sure to secure them and keep the electrical wires hidden – as broken pieces of plastic or glass or electrical shock from a shewed cord can be life-threatening.

Ghost, Goblins, Witches and More
Not all pets enjoy wearing Halloween costumes, but if you decide to include them in the dress up festivities, make sure the costume is safe. Look for options that do not restrict movement, hearing or their ability to breathe or speak (bark/meow) and always give them a few days to acclimate to the costume by putting it on them for varying periods of time. If your pet becomes distressed while in costume, or if they seem to be allergic or showing abnormal behavior, it’s best not to force the attire on them. Instead, opt for a festive bandana, collar, leash or harness, which will be more familiar for them.

Halloween is supposed to be fun for everyone, including our family pets. In the event that your pet becomes sick or injured during your celebrations, immediately call Central Veterinary Associates at 1-888-4CVA-PET. We are open at our Valley Stream location 24/7 including Halloween.

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