K-State veterinarian offers pet safety tips ahead of Halloween

(Amy Sussman/AP Images for PetSmart, Inc.)
(Amy Sussman/AP Images for PetSmart, Inc.)(AP Images for PetSmart)
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 8:07 AM CDT
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Halloween is just a few days away and many pet owners are eager to participate in the spooky holiday.

Kansas State University clinical professor, Susan Nelson, said treats and costumes are great for kids and adults, but pet owners should take extra care with dogs and cats.

She said it is important to first, keep all candy out of pets reach. “Chocolate, raisins, sugar-free candies and gums, and some nuts, can be toxic to pets,” Nelson said. “Candy wrappers and lollipop sticks can also become choking hazards or gastrointestinal foreign bodies if ingested.”

Pet costumes are also very popular. Nelson suggests pet owners try the costume on their pet in advance to allow them to get used to it, as well as make sure they can see, hear, smell, and breathe while in it. She said it is also important to avoid costumes with loose or small parts that can be pulled off and ingested.

“If your pet seems distressed, allergic, or shows abnormal behavior with a costume, consider having it wear a Halloween-themed bandana instead, as many pets prefer to dress up as themselves,” Nelson said.

Pet costumes are not the only concern. K-State is also warning how family members in costumes can frighten a pet.

“A severe fright can make the pet wary of that person for some time to come, even after the costume has been removed,” Nelson said. “Get your pet used to the costume well in advance of the holiday by giving it treats while wearing part of the costume, and then later, all of the costume to help the pet become more familiar with it.”

With all the frights and haunts Halloween brings, there are other things pet owners should keep in mind.

Nelson said if pets become anxious from noise and activity here are a few things pet owners can try:

  • Keep animal kenneled away from the activity or make a comfy spot in a back room.
  • Turn on a radio or TV to help drown out noise caused by ringing doorbells and excited children.
  • Greet visitors and hand out treats at the end of the driveway.
  • Speak with the pet’s veterinarian to determine if sedatives are an option and can be prescribed.
  • Keep pets inside to protect them from tricksters. Cats, especially black ones, are often sought after with cruel intentions during Halloween and caution needs to be exercised during this time to keep them safe.
  • Ensure pet has proper forms of identification, such as a microchip, collar or tags, should they run off. A reflective collar may also help others to spot them if they go missing at night.
  • Keep pets away from electrical cords and decorations. Chewing on electrical cords can lead to life-threatening electrocution and burns. Decorations using corncobs, strings or tassels can be ingested and cause obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Keep lit pumpkins and candles out of reach, as they can burn pets. A frightened or curious pet also can tip over a candle, which could lead to a house fire. Consider using battery-operated lights instead. Pumpkins can be a source of toxic mold if ingested.
  • Keep glow sticks away from pets. While not poisonous, glow sticks have a very bitter taste and can cause irritation to the mouth. Pets, especially cats, may drool uncontrollably and become very agitated. Some glow sticks contain a small glass vial that when broken, activates the glow stick. The glass can be harmful if ingested.

Anyone who suspects their pet may have ingested something toxic should call their veterinarian, the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 for advice.