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Your Happy Pet: Halloween safety tips for pets

Original Publication Date: October 27, 2014
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

Halloween ghosts and goblins may put you in a festive mood as children ring the doorbell to trick-or-treat.

Unfortunately, those little people in strange outfits may be scary and stressful to your pets.

The following are a few tips to ensure both children and pets have fun and regard Halloween as a treat.

Sensitive pets actually appreciate being excluded from the holiday activities. A dog crate, cat carrier or quiet room is much preferred by most pets. If you choose to let your dog be part of the festivities, keep it away from the door or place a baby gate in front of it to avoid an accidental escape. You can still dole out treats, but your pet cannot dash out into potential harm.

In the event your pet does perform a crafty escape and become separated from you, it should have an ID with its name, your name, phone number and address. A collar with tags is great for quick identification even if your pet has a microchip.

If you plan to dress your dog or cat for Halloween, be sure the costume is safe and your pet agrees that wearing a cute costume is a fun experience. A safe well-fitting costume should allow your pet to breathe, see, hear, move freely and be nonflammable.

Try the costume on a day or two before Halloween to get your pet's opinion. Some pets are hams and love to dress up. Others don't find the experience at all amusing.

Please respect your pet's views on Halloween costumes. You might consider a kerchief with a Halloween theme or allow it to wear only its birthday suit if that is its preference.

The bowl of trick-or-treat goodies should be for human beggars only. Candies that contain chocolate and sugar free gums and candies that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol are toxic to dogs and cats. Small amounts of either may cause vomiting, muscle tremors or seizures while larger doses can be fatal.

Make sure your children understand the danger of sharing their treats with their much-loved pet.

Halloween safety tips for pets Halloween safety tips for pets
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Do your furry friend a favor, don't ask it to share his treats with you, and don't share your people treats with it.

Candlelit carved pumpkins are a wonderful addition to Halloween festivities. Please place them in areas your pet cannot access. If a lit jack-o'-lantern is accidentally knocked over by a curious pet, it may be singed, receive a serious burn or cause a fire.

Decorations and lights with electric cords also pose a danger to pets. The cords are attractive chew toys to some pets but can cause life-threatening electric shock so they must be kept out of your pet's reach.

With a little care, you, your children, and your pets can have a fun, festive, and safe Halloween.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at