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Keep your pets safe on Halloween

Original Publication Date: October 26, 2015
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

Halloween decorations, costumes, candy, trick-or-treating and parties put kids and grown-ups in a festive mood.

Unfortunately, spirited Halloween activities and little people dressed as ghosts and goblins may be scary and stressful to your pets. Here are a few tips to ensure both children and pets have a happy Halloween.

An estimated half of pet owners dress their pets in Halloween costumes. Pumpkins and ladybugs seem to be favorites.

If you plan to dress your dog or cat for Halloween, choose a safe, well-fitting costume that allows your pet to breathe, see, hear and move freely. Try the costume on a day or two before Halloween to get your pet's opinion. A few pets like the limelight and enjoy dressing up for Halloween. Others don't find the experience amusing.

Most of our furry friends are happiest wearing only their birthday suits but don't mind a Halloween-themed neck bandana.

Stow Halloween candies out of your pet's reach. The bowl of trick-or-treat goodies should be for human beggars only. Yummy people treats that contain chocolate 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.

Candlelit carved pumpkins add to the Halloween festivities but can be dangerous for pets. If a lit jack-o-lantern is accidentally knocked over by a curious pet, they 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 must be kept out of your pet's reach.

Keep your pets safe on Halloween Keep your pets safe on Halloween
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Glow sticks and glow jewelry make kids visible on Halloween night, but they are not for your pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association said the liquid in the glow toys is not likely toxic, but it tastes really bad and causes pets to salivate excessively and act strangely.

Sensitive pets actually appreciate being excluded from the holiday activities. A dog crate, cat carrier or quiet room is much preferred by most. If you choose to let your dog be part of the activities, keep them 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 bolt, they should have an ID with their name, your name, phone number and address. A collar with tags is great for quick identification even if your pet has a microchip.

With a little care, you, your children, and your pets can have a happy 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