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Protect pets from harm this Halloween

Protect pets from harm this Halloween

While Halloween can be fun for adults and children alike, the family pet might not look forward to October 31 as much as the rest of the family. When trick-ortreating time arrives and the doorbell gets its annual workout, pet parents should take steps to ensure their dogs, cats and other companion animals stay calm and don’t get too frightened or excited.

Halloween is full of decorations, costumes and, of course, trick-ortreaters. While the excitement can be thrilling for children, pets can easily grow scared. Animals generally become creatures of routine, and anything that takes them out of their comfort zones can be a cause for agitation. Spooky decorations hung throughout the house and outdoors present new sights and smells. The doorbell ringing every few minutes could put skittish pets even more on edge — especially when they come face-to-face with hordes of costumed trick-or-treaters.

Candy, and chocolate in particular, poses a large risk as well. Even relatively small amounts of chocolate can be harmful to cats and dogs. That’s because chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two different types of stimulants that can wreak havoc on an animal’s central nervous system. Hard candies may be swallowed and become lodged in the throat or digestive tract. Artificial sweeteners are harmful to animals, too.

To help keep pets safe, it is best to consider the following tips for Halloween.

• Keep pets indoors for the day. Animals that are frightened may run away or grow disoriented and get lost. Also, you never want your pet to be the victim of a Halloween prank. Sometimes black cats are stolen on Halloween. Dogs left outside may be at risk for teasing and taunting, too.

• Don’t take dogs trick-or-treating. Although you may have a calm, well-mannered dog, the crowds in the neighborhood may excite man’s best friend, whose behavior might be difficult to predict. Also, other animals that get loose from homes when the doors are opened may provoke your dog. It’s enough to keep your eyes on your children, never mind being mindful of your dog, too.

• Skip costumes for pets. You may think it’s a great idea to dress your pets in costumes, but there’s a good chance your pet does not share your enthusiasm. It may stress out the animal, so avoid pet costumes.

• Be mindful of holiday decorations. Strings of lights, fake spider webs and other decorative items can be tripping hazards for pets, while electronic devices could pose a safety risk. Avoid lit candles in the home because cats or dogs may knock them over.

• Keep pets secured in a bedroom or another quiet space. Your dog or cat may try to bolt outside every time you open the door to trick-or-treaters. Instead, keep the animals in a bedroom or laundry area. Not only will they appreciate the quiet, but also they won’t have a chance to escape and get lost.

• Store collected candy out of reach. Pets are inquisitive, and they may be drawn to the sweet smell of candy and treats. Candy wrappers and the candy itself can be hazardous to pets. Therefore, store candy where pets cannot access it and be sure children discard candy wrappers.

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