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18.10.2018

Halloween Pet Safety Tips


As we wave goodbye to a glorious summer many of us are digging out our gloves, hats and scarves in preparation for the autumn festivities. Yet whilst those of us with two legs may be excited by the promise of Halloween sweets, ‘trick or treat’ fancy dress, bonfires and breath-taking fireworks displays, what about our four-legged friends?

Autumn fun and frolics are often far less enjoyable for our furry family members so here at Protexin we have compiled some handy hints and tips to help ensure that the upcoming festivities can be as stress free as possible for your pets.

Halloween Dangers

 

Most pet owners are aware of the stresses and dangers that accompany Bonfire Night but many would agree that Halloween offers the perfect opportunity for all the family, including our furry friends, to get involved with some harmless fun. However dangers still lurk around the pumpkin patch so follow our top tips to make sure that you’re not involved in your own ‘scary story’ this Halloween.

Trick or Treat?

At Halloween many households will stock the cupboards with sweets and chocolate ready for the little ghosts and ghouls that may come knocking on the door, but these tasty treats can cause our four-legged friends some serious issues:

  • Chocolate, in any form, is toxic to dogs and even small amounts (especially in smaller breeds) can cause severe illness and even be life threatening to your pooch.
  • Sweets and candy can pose numerous problems to our doggy friends including tooth fractures, choking hazards and a range of digestive upsets that can be mild or much more severe.
  • Sugar-free sweets often contain large amounts of artificial sweeteners, some of which are extremely toxic to dogs and cats with just small amounts causing liver and kidney damage and possibly even death.
  • Some people prefer to use fruit and nuts as a healthier alternative to sweets and chocolate but these should still not be given to your pets as certain types of nuts can be toxic to dogs whilst even the ‘safe’ nuts can cause significant digestive upsets. Many fruit mixes also contain raisins/sultanas/grapes which are also toxic to dogs.

So how can we keep our pets safe with all of this temptation around?

  • Ensure that all sweets and chocolate are kept out of reach from your pets and in sealed containers.
  • Make sure you discuss with children the possible dangers of giving sweets and chocolates to your pets to ensure that the whole family is aware of how to keep your four-legged friends safe this Halloween.
  • If you want your pets to join in with the tasty treat eating then only feed treats your pet is used to, ensure they are ‘pet safe’ and only feed in moderation.
  • If your pet does manage to get into the non-pet friendly treat stash then call your veterinary surgeon immediately for advice.

 

 

Costume Party

One of the most fun and anticipated parts of Halloween for many is the opportunity for the whole family to partake in some fancy dress action and for many that includes the opportunity to turn our dogs and cats into adorable pumpkins or scary monsters. In fact there are now whole stores dedicated to providing costumes for our furry family friends! However it is important to be aware that for some pets, being made to wear costumes can be extremely stressful and sometimes the signs that they aren’t as happy we think can be extremely subtle:

  • “It’s all in the eyes” – when dogs are stressed or unhappy you will often notice that more of the white part of their eyes is visible with a crescent shape or ‘half-moon’ appearance becoming more apparent, especially as they look side to side.
  • “Ears aren’t just for listening” – when stressed or agitated many dogs will lay their ears flat or closer to their head, however some dogs will perk their ears up more when stressed; the important thing is that you notice what is ‘different’ for your dog’s ear position compared to normal and heed the signs when things change.
  • “Pearly whites” – when dogs are significantly distressed you may notice that their mouths appear a little more open. Whilst we take seeing a display of teeth as a warning, we may not always notice a more subtle lip-curl but it’s something we should always be on the lookout for; that lip-curl can quickly become a snarl which can, in the blink of an eye, become a snap or a bite.
  • “Talk to me” – Some dogs will bark or growl when overtly stressed but others may just whimper or whine to try and let us know that they aren’t comfortable with the situation.
  • “In one end and out the other” – Changes in your dog’s appetite and normal digestion pattern can often give a good indication of their overall happiness levels; dogs that are stressed may have a reduced appetite or not want to eat at all whilst at the tail end they may show other signs of anxiety induced digestive disturbance in the form of diarrhoea or constipation.
  • “The whole package” – If your dog is stressed they may show one or several of the above signs as anxiety often causes whole body responses. Some other signs to be aware of that can also indicate your dog is experiencing stress and anxiety can include: trembling, shivering, panting, pacing, excessive drooling, tucked tail or ‘tail-tip wagging’, excessive licking and yawning.

If you notice any of the above signs in your dog it is important to abandon the fancy dress plans and to give them some time and space to de-stress in a comfortable, familiar and quiet environment.

 

Other top tips for a festive and fun All Hallows’ Eve:

  • Jack ‘o’ Lanterns and candles are great fun and provide the perfect spooky Halloween atmosphere, but just like young children, we need to be extra careful with open flames/candles and pets. Apart from the fact that fur can be very combustible (!) dogs and cats aren’t usually aware of fire safety and a wagging tail or swiping cat paw can easily knock over a candle so always ensure that all pets are kept away from any open flames.

  • Parties for children (and adults) have become increasingly popular at Halloween time but these can be a source of stress and anxiety for your pet. To be sure that everyone has the best possible time you can provide your pet with a quiet, safe and comfortable space that they can escape to if needed; exercise and mental stimulation can also help relieve anxiety so a good walk with the family before the party, and access to their favourite toys to play with during it, can also help keep your furry friends happy and occupied.

 

We hope that following our top tips will help you and your pets enjoy a spooky but safe Halloween!