Costumes, candy and carved pumpkins lit with candles are all great Halloween fun for humans, but it can be a scary and even dangerous holiday for pets. As much as youâ€™d like to include them in the fun, animals are creatures of habit, and they can become frightened during the noise and antics of Halloween night. From their point of view, the strangely-pitched music, weird noises, odd clothing and make-up or masks may pose a threat to their normally quiet household.
Some pets may view trick-or-treaters banging at your door as dangerous invaders and try to protect you by barking and jumping at the door. Children who are afraid of dogs might be startled and alarmed when theyâ€™re expecting a treat. Other animals might be so enthusiastic at the thought of a playmate ringing the bell, they try to run out and play as soon as the door is opened a crack. Sociable animals staying at home should be kept on a leash to prevent escape, but those that are skittish or afraid of strangers might be more comfortable in a quiet room away from the front door. A few favorite toys and the sound of a TV or radio playing will act as a distraction from the doorbell and yells of â€œtrick or treat.â€
If your dog accompanies your kids around the neighborhood, keep a tight hold on the leash, be sure they have an ID on their collar and watch what they may pick up off the sidewalks as the little ghosts and goblins chow their way through the neighborhood.
Just because you think a costume for your pet is cute doesnâ€™t mean heâ€™ll enjoy wearing one. If you plan to dress your pet, try it on ahead of time to be sure heâ€™s receptive. Some animals donâ€™t mind clothing, but others prefer to wear only their â€œbirthday suitsâ€ and should not be forced to wear a costume they donâ€™t like.
Pet costumes should be lightweight with no dangling or easily chewed-off pieces your pet could choke on. It shouldnâ€™t interfere with your petâ€™s vision, constrict its movement or impede its ability to breathe or eliminate. Because animals depend on their peripheral vision to let them know whatâ€™s going on, masks should never be used.
Be wary of costumes that contain rubber bands to keep them in place. Hidden by fur, they can mistakenly be left on the pet after the costume comes off and can quickly cut into the skin. Costumes that fasten with Velcro and are sized by the petâ€™s weight are a better bet.
Carved pumpkins lit with candles can start fires or singe fur if tipped over by a wagging tail or curious nose, so exercise caution in their placement if you have pets. Cats and dogs can get tangled in streamers or fiberglass spider webs or become ill from eating holiday decorations.
The bowl of candy, in easy reach for handouts, as well as the bagful of candy the kids bring home can be tempting to a pet waiting to steal goodies when no one is watching. Chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs and cats, and cellophane or foil candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed. Remind the kids not to share their bounty or leave wrappers on the floor. If they want to share, let them give the pet an appropriate pet treat instead.
Halloween poses other serious dangers for pets. Malicious pranksters have teased, injured, stolen and even killed pets on Halloween night. Dogs tied outdoors are likely to bark at the constant flow of noisy trick-or-treaters, which can draw attention to themselves. They should not be left outdoors, even in your own yard.
Halloween is an especially dangerous time for cats, especially black cats, who have unfairly been associated with evil forces. The safest cat is always an indoor cat, but itâ€™s especially important to keep your feline inside for several days before and after Halloween. If you donâ€™t want to bring outdoor pets inside your house, they can be kept in a garage or laundry room.
If you want your pet to be a participant in Halloween festivities, being aware of possible dangers and a little common sense can assure a safe Halloween for everyone.
Barnosky can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing The Gazette, 885 W. Liberty St., Medina, 44256.