The Star-Herald

Halloween safety for your pets

What a beautiful fall we are having.  We hope you and your furry friends have been able to go on long walks enjoying all these “bonus days.”

Even though the pandemic has put an unexpected cramp in most of our lives, we are all starting to get a glimpse of our past “normal” life reappearing.  There will definitely be the usual ghosts, goblins and superheroes out on the prowl on Halloween night. 

Halloween can be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. It’s important to use commonsense precautions when it comes to keeping your pet happy and safe during this time. 

It’s best to “stash the treats.” The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not wandering pups or kitties. Some popular Halloween treats are very toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms — especially dark or baking chocolate — can be very dangerous for cats and dogs, and sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems in pets. 

Be mindful of decorations and keep wires out of reach. While a carved jack-o-lantern certainly is festive, pets can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Curious kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames. 

Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively nontoxic, but can produce stomach discomfort in pets that nibble on them.

For some pets, wearing a costume may cause undue stress. The ASPCA recommends that you don’t put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. If you do dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, bark or meow. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

Be sure to have your pet try on the costume before the big night. If he or she seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting your pet wear his or her “birthday suit” or don a festive bandana instead.

Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers can often be scary and stressful for pets. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. 

While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure your pet is wearing proper identification. If for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.

Please check out the Central Aroostook Humane Society Facebook page for pets available for adoption.  

Happy Halloween — and remember to be responsible by spaying and neutering your pets.

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a board member for the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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