Halloween and your dog

Anticipate potential hazards this Halloween and prepare for them. Particular areas of concern are things that dogs might eat, interactions between dogs and children, and the general level of excitement or fear, which might cause the chance for escape or encourage touchy behavior. Remember that dogs don’t understand that Halloween is a holiday, and they may find loud, excited, oddly clad children frightening and traumatic. Be sensitive to your dog’s stress level and safety, and have a Happy Halloween!

Please don’t leave your pet out in the yard on Halloween. There are plenty of stories of vicious pranksters who have teased, injured, stolen, and even killed pets on this night.

No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Sammy. Chocolate in all forms can be very dangerous for dogs and cats, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed. If you suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe or bark. Keep a look out for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could choke on.

Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not obstruct her vision in any way. Even the sweetest animals can get snappy when they can’t see.

All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you.