Tricks, treats and pets don’t mix: Beware of Halloween dangers to pets

October 20, 2010

From press release

Halloween can be a fun holiday for families and their pets. However, Petland asks that pet owners are aware of potential dangers to their pets to keep this holiday safe and fun for their four-legged family members.

“At Petland, we educate our customers on potential holiday dangers so that they can keep their pets safe while still including them in the fun this Halloween,” said Darcy Howen, operator, Petland of Rockford.

While the ghouls and goblins that come knocking on our door Halloween night are part of the fun for us, our pets may feel differently. Strange and unusual sights and sounds can scare your pet. Petland recommends you keep your pet inside, out of harm’s way.

“Ideally, the pet should be secluded in a quiet room while the Halloween festivities go on,” said Howen. “Not only will this help your pet stay calm, but you also avoid the possibility of your pet escaping or becoming aggressive towards unfamiliar surroundings.”

Keep pets inside, secure candy wrappers

Jack-o’-lanterns and candles are common sights during the Halloween season. Petland asks pet owners to use caution with fire as your pet could knock these items over or burn themselves. Many other Halloween decorations and candy wrappers can be dangerous for both cats and dogs if swallowed or eaten, so exercise caution and supervision if these items are present in your home.

If you plan on walking your pet outside on Halloween, Petland asks responsible pet owners to remember a few key safety tips.

“Keep your pet on a shorter than normal leash in order to keep them away from costumed children and other pets,” said Howen, adding that pet owners should walk their pets during the daylight hours instead of after dark. Make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag so they can be returned if they do manage to get away.

Supervise costumed pets

Pet owners love to dress up their pets all year round, especially during Halloween. Petland says to pay close attention to their pets while they are dressed up to avoid any harm.

“Make sure the costume fits well and is not too tight. Avoid using tight elastics like rubber bands. These products can restrict blood flow and become tangled in the fur,” said Howen. “Most importantly, never leave a costumed pet unsupervised. Your pet may chew on the outfit. If pieces of a costume are ingested, this can make the pet very ill. They can also get tangled in ribbons or ties and hurt themselves.”

Protect black cats from age-old superstitions

Cats have been given many mystical powers through the years. History and superstition have linked felines to witchcraft, making the cat the most likely pet to be talked about on Oct. 31. Specifically, the black cat is a black mark according to many cultural superstitions.

Petland reminds people that superstitions are irrational beliefs in particular things or circumstances. Usually, there is very little, if any, truth to superstitions. However, these beliefs can cause good people to make bad choices, including harming a pet at Halloween.

“If you own a black cat, you should keep your pet inside during the entire month of October,” said Howen. “If you see anyone abusing a pet this Halloween, please contact the proper local authorities.”

Chocolate not safe for pets; offer safe substitutes

Pets love to be like their owners, even if it is not best for them. With the large amount of candy in many homes during Halloween, Petland says pet owners should not share any candy, especially chocolate, with their furry friends, as it can be toxic to both cats and dogs.

Chocolate contains theobromine. It is a substance that is easily digested by humans, but can, in large quantities, be fatal to pets. Ten ounces of milk chocolate and even less of unsweetened baking chocolate can qualify as a lethal dose for small pets, especially those weighing 20 pounds or less.

Symptoms such as severe stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, labored breathing and even seizures can strike a pet after ingesting chocolate. Call your vet if your pet has eaten any chocolate and is experiencing any of these symptoms.

“A handful of chocolate candies could be deadly to your best friend. Giving a pet chocolate is not worth the risk of illness,” said Howen. “If your pet accidentally gets into some chocolate and you don’t know how much it has eaten, call your veterinarian immediately.”

You don’t have to leave your pet out of the Halloween fun, however. Many treats, advertised as “chocolaty” for pets, are made of pet-safe carob.

By following these easy pet care guidelines, Halloween can be fun and safe for all members of your family.

Petland, Inc., is a franchise operation with more than 200 quality, full-service, retail pet centers across the United States, Canada, Chile, Japan and South Africa.

For more information about Petland, visit petland.com.

From the Oct. 20-26, 2010 issue

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