With Halloween approaching, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) and its member veterinarians are sharing the following tips for keeping your pet safe, not only on the spookiest night of the year, but also in the weeks leading up to it:
Keep candy and chocolate away from pets
Keep holiday treats and candies, out of your pet's reach as they can make your pet quite sick. If eaten, candy wrappers can cause an upset stomach.
Unsweetened, dark, bittersweet and baking chocolate can be toxic to pets, especially dogs, who are more prone to eat it. If your dog eats chocolate, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center, as treatment may need to be rendered immediately. Symptoms of toxicity include excitement, nervousness, trembling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, muscle spasms and seizures.
"It is important to keep gum, candy or breath fresheners containing the sweetener xylitol away from your pet," said Dr. Todd McNabb OVMA president. "When a pet eats even a small amount of xylitol, it causes a surge of insulin, and the animal's blood sugar may drop quickly and dangerously. Cases of liver damage have also been associated with ingestion of xylitol."
McNabb said if you suspect your pet has ingested xylitol, some signs to look for are depression, loss of coordination and vomiting. The signs of illness may occur within minutes to days of ingesting xylitol. If you see these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Keep pets in when trick-or-treaters are out
If you plan to participate in Halloween festivities, such as answering your door to trick-or-treaters, keep pets in a quiet part of the house. Pets can become overexcited, confused or frightened by trick-or-treaters in costume.
Watch for open doors and make sure your pets have ID tags and/or microchips in case they do get out. Remind your guests that your normally friendly pet may want to be left alone. Young trick-or-treaters may be scared of dogs that run excitedly toward them when their owner answers the door.
-Outdoor pets, especially black cats, should be kept indoors on Halloween.
-Decorations Are Potential Tricks
-Halloween decorations such as fake cobwebs should be kept out of reach of pets.
-Glow sticks can be hazardous if chewed or ingested. While not usually life-threatening, they can cause mouth pain and irritation, as well as profuse drooling and foaming at the mouth.
-Light strands, loose wires and electric cords can be a serious hazard to your pet, especially puppies, who may chew them.
-Never leave candles, such as those in jack-o-lanterns, unattended, especially around puppies and kittens.
-Never allow your pets to eat a leftover jack-o-lantern, as a rotted, moldy pumpkin can make them seriously ill.
Costumes May Not Be a Treat
Some pets might not mind "dressing up" for Halloween, but, for others, it could be a stressful experience best avoided.
"Costumes should fit properly and not hinder your pet's movement, vision or breathing," said McNabb. "Try out the costume on your pet several times before Halloween so it can get used to wearing it."
For more pet health care tips, visit oregonvma.org or contact your veterinarian.