While Halloween is a lively time for children and adults alike, The Humane Society of the United States is reminding pet owners that this haunting holiday may be more scary than amusing for your pets. While silly costumes and games are fun for people, companion animals aren’t used to spooky surprises, constant doorbell-ringing and the general hustle-and-bustle in our homes this time of year.
“Halloween festivities may be fun for humans, but stressful for pets,” said KC Theisen, director of pet care issues for The HSUS. “Halloween noises, smells and people in costumes can overwhelm many pets, so while you’re enjoying the festivities, make sure your pets have a safe haven in one room of your house where they can feel safe, comfortable and relaxed.”
The HSUS recommends the following tips:
- Keep your pets safely indoors, away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities. Remember that masks and costumes change how people look and smell to a pet, so even familiar people may become frightening.
- Make sure that all of your pets are wearing tags with current ID. Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates plenty of escape opportunities.
- Keep candy out of your pets’ reach. Chocolate and other ingredients can be toxic to them.
- Most pets are happiest wearing nothing but their birthday suit, but if you do choose a costume for your pets, forgo masks and make sure costumes are comfortable and do not pose a risk for injury.
- Decorations can be dangerous, so be sure to keep them safely away from pets. Candle flames can set fire to their fur. Hanging or dangling decorations can be an entanglement or choking hazard to some animals.
- Use fake cobwebs sparingly, if at all. Pets can choke on fake cobwebs set up indoors. Outdoors, fake webs may be a hazard to birds and wildlife.
- When going out trick-or-treating, leave your dog at home. Dogs can be easily excited by the Halloween commotion and a bite or lost dog will quickly end the evening’s fun.
The HSUS’ online store, Humane Domain, carries a number of products for a stress-free Halloween, including the calming Thundershirt™ for dogs and cats. And, if you need to take your dog outside while neighbors are trick-or-treating, the NightWalker 3-Beam Light and Ultimate 4-way Flashing Collar are good options to keep you and your dog safe and visible.
Don’t forget about wildlife on Halloween, either. Nocturnal animals, such as raccoons, opossums and foxes will be out foraging for food. If you come across a wild animal while out trick-or-treating, your best bet is to keep your distance (and keep your pets away from wild animals, too). And though bats are classically associated with Halloween, they will be in hibernation in all but the warmest parts of the South.
Paying heed to the tips above, we can all work together to keep our beloved pets and our wild neighbors safe this Halloween.