Halloween safety: Spooky night may be more trick than treat for pets


by Cindy Anderson, DVM

Halloween may be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. Some pets love the hustle and bustle of Halloween, but others can find this popular holiday very stressful. Please consider the following tips to keep your pets safe during the Halloween season.

Stash the treats. The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not for Buddy or Mittens. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets, including chocolate–especially dark or baking chocolate and candies containing xylitol–a common sugar substitute found in sugar-free candies or gum. A good alternative for your pet is to make them their own special treat for the holiday.

Watch the decorations and keep wires out of reach. Be aware of which decorations pose threats. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively nontoxic, but can cause stomach discomfort in pets who nibble on them.

A carved jack-o’-lantern is certainly festive, but pets can easily knock one over and start a fire if a candle is inside. Curious kittens also are at risk of getting burned by a candle’s flame.

Other potential hazards are rubber eyeballs (choking), glow sticks and fake blood (possibly toxic), fake cobwebs (entanglement/injury/choking), potpourri (toxic to birds) and string lights. Be sure to watch out for candy wrappers and plastic packaging, too.

Be cautious with pet Halloween costumes. When choosing a costume for your pet, consider your pet’      s personality and what type of costume they may tolerate and for how long. Masks and hats around the face can pose dangers and make your pet feel uncomfortable. Be sure that a costume allows your pet to move freely and be sure to remove any chewable parts that could easily come off and choke your pet. If your pet shows signs of discomfort, which include folded down ears and a tucked tail or hunching over, please take the costume off immediately.

Keep pets calm and easily identifiable. Halloween brings a lot of activity to your household and too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets. Keep those stressed pets in a quiet area during the peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for trick-or-treaters, be sure that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside. Be sure your pet has identification, in case of an escape, personalized tags. Microchips are wonderful and lifesaving accessories.

The staff of Lakelands Trail Veterinary Clinic and I wish everyone a fun and safe spooky season. Please call us at 517-655-5551 or visit us at 4525 S. Michigan-52, Stockbridge, MI 49285.

Cindy Anderson, DVM

Cindy Anderson, DVM,  is a graduate of MSU Veterinary College (1992) and has practiced veterinary medicine for over 28 years.