Halloween can be scary, particularly for pets

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Oct. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in costumes walk the streets, bowls of candy and other treats. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns people to keep pets safe this Halloween, a holiday that can be truly frightening—and a little hazardous—for pets.

"While Halloween is a lot of fun for kids, pets can be alarmed by the new activity and strange costumes. Many dogs feel they are the guardians of their homes, and they can feel threatened if a stranger comes into their area," explains Dr. Clark K. Fobian, president of the AVMA. "If your pet is apprehensive in these situations, you need to be sensitive to that and make preparations before Halloween to keep your dog or cat from becoming confused and fleeing your home or perhaps even biting somebody."

The AVMA has produced an informative video posted on the AVMA YouTube channel offering tips on celebrating Halloween safely with pets.  

"Nothing will ruin your Halloween fun like an emergency trip to the  hospital, or to the animal hospital, because one of your animals got into the candy bowl or got scared enough to scratch or bite," Dr. Fobian says. "Consider putting your pet into a place where it will feel safe. This could be inside a crate with a favorite toy or pet treat or inside a room with the door closed. If you're dog or cat is prone to becoming extremely stressed, work with your local veterinarian to find solutions. It might even be advisable to board an animal to remove them from the situation."

Here are some other tips to help keep your pet happy and healthy this Halloween:

  • The cocoa in chocolate can be poisonous to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the more deadly it can be. In addition, small dogs are more likely to be affected by ingesting a small amount of chocolate than larger dogs. For more tips about common household poisons, watch the AVMA's video on household hazards.
  • Chocolate candies aren't the only sweets that are potentially dangerous. Some pets will consume a candy whole, including the candy wrapper, which can cause an intestinal blockage. Also, Xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many chewing gums and baked goods, has been shown to be poisonous to dogs. In addition, raisins, a common healthy treat for kids on Halloween, can be poisonous to dogs and cats.
  • If you fear your pet has ingested candy or any other potentially dangerous foods, contact your veterinarian or your local emergency pet hospital immediately. A quick response could save your pet's life.
  • If you want to put a Halloween costume on your pet, make sure that the costume doesn't obstruct the animal's vision, breathing or movement. Also, it may be a good idea to introduce your pet to the costume a few days or weeks before Halloween, so it won't startle them on such a busy, unusual day. Never leave your pet alone while it is wearing a costume.
  • Halloween decorations, like candles or jack-o'-lanterns, and pets don't go together. Your pet could knock something over and possibly start a fire or suffer burns.  Make sure they're placed where pets can't access them.
  • Make sure that every day—but particularly on Halloween—your pet has proper identification. With the front door opening and closing to allow neighborhood children to say "trick or treat," it's possible a pet could panic and run out into the night while you're busy handing out candy. Proper identification, particularly microchip identification with up-to-date registered information, will make it much more likely that you'll be reunited with your pet.

For more information about Halloween safety, including a short video and podcast, visit www.avma.org/Halloween. For more information about the AVMA, visit www.avma.org.

NOTE TO EDITORS:  Dr. Fobian is available for interviews.

Founded in 1863 and now more than 84,000 members strong, the AVMA is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Join us as we celebrate 150 years of education, science and service.

SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association



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Photo Credit: U.S. DoD, Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall, Jr. View all news by American Veterinary Medical Association

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