ALERT: Halloween Hazards
EL CENTRO — Halloween is undoubtedly one of most people’s favorite holidays. It’s fun and scary at the same time, but with all the unknown hazards, Halloween can be a real nightmare for our pets.
Here are ten easy tips for keeping the fur-kids safe this Halloween:
1. Don’t keep pumpkins lit around pets.
If you are using candles to keep your jack-o-lanterns or other Halloween decorations lit, make sure to place them well out of reach of your pets. If they get too close, they run the risk of severely burning themselves or starting a fire.
2. Keep glow sticks away from pets.
While glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween night and provide some extra fun to a costume or Halloween party, glow sticks pose a serious threat to the health of our pets should they accidentally chew on or consume them. The liquid inside glow sticks is non-toxic, so it won’t actually make pets sick, but it does taste awful. Pets who chew open a glow stick may drool, paw at their mouth, become agitated and sometimes even vomit. What may pose the biggest threat of all is the container that holds the glowing liquid.
3. Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know they’ll love it.
If you do decide the “fur-kid” needs a costume, make sure it isn’t dangerous or even flat out annoying to your pet. Costumes should never restrict movement, hearing, eyesight or the ability to breathe. Pets who are wearing a costume should always be supervised by a responsible adult so that if something goes wrong, it can be dealt with right away.
4. Keep Halloween plants out of reach.
Small amounts of pumpkin and corn can be fed safely to most pets. Ingesting uncooked or moldy Halloween pumpkins or corn displays can cause big problems. Gastrointestinal upset is a possibility whenever pets eat something they aren’t used to, and intestinal blockage can occur if large pieces are swallowed. Certain types of mold produce toxins which may cause neurologic problems in both dogs and cats.
5. Candy is not for pets. Chocolate (especially baking or dark chocolate) can be dangerous and potentially lethal for pets. A few symptoms of chocolate poisoning in pets may include, but are not limited to: vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. Candies containing xylitol (an artificial sweetener) can also be poisonous to pets. Small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and loss of coordination, possible seizures and even liver failure.
6. Keep pets confined and away from the door. Indoors is certainly better than outdoors on any given day in the Imperial Valley, but more so on Halloween. Your door will be constantly opening and closing and strangers will be on your doorstep dressed in unusual costumes. This can be very scary for our fur-kids and may result in escape attempts or unexpected aggression. Putting your dog or cat in a secure crate or room away from the front door will reduce stress and prevent them from getting outside.
7. Try on pet costumes a few days, or the night before. Don’t wait until Halloween night to put your pet in a costume for the first time. Any time you want to introduce your pet to something new, it is always best to do it gradually. Get your pet’s costumes early and put it on for short periods of time (and piece by piece, if possible). To help make the experience more pleasant, offer lots of treats and praise. If at any time your pet seems distressed or develops skin problems from the costume, consider a festive bandana instead.
8. Don’t leave pets outside on Halloween. Pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal and even kill pets on the night of Halloween. Although it isn’t justifiable, it is preventable. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution. Make sure your black cats are safely housed indoors around Halloween.
9. Keep electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations out of reach of pets. Although electric and/or battery-operated Halloween decorations are safer than open candles, they can still present a risk to pets. Pets who chew on electrical cords can accidentally electrocute or burn themselves. Batteries may cause chemical burns when chewed on or gastrointestinal blockage if accidentally swallowed. Shards of glass or plastic can cause lacerations anywhere on the body, but if accidentally swallowed they can prove to be fatal.
10. ID tags are a must! Should your pet accidentally escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that he or she will return home safely. Collars and tags are ideal if someone is able to get a hold of your lost pet, but microchips offer permanent identification should the collar or tag fall off. Please make sure that the information on an ID tag or on a microchip is up to date. Lastly, please make sure to have the numbers of all local veterinarians on hand in the event that something happens on the night of Halloween:
El Centro Animal Clinic 298 W. Main St. El Centro, CA 92243 760-352-4222 Desert Veterinary Group 805 N. Rodeo Drive Imperial, CA 92251 760-355-0141 Valley Veterinary Hospital 485 Broadway, Ste. F El Centro, CA 92243 760-352-1279 Howard Animal Hospital 4275 Highway 86 Brawley, CA 92227 760-344-5738 Have a happy and safe Howl-oween everyone!