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Leaves are falling, pumpkin spice lattes are back, and skeletons and jack-o-lanterns are appearing on porches and lawns across the area. Halloween is here! It’s a fun and spooky time of year beloved by kids (and, let’s face it, most of us adults), but for our pets, it can be stressful and even dangerous.

How can you keep your furry family member safe during the howl-iday? Here are a few tips to keep in mind in the coming weeks.

No treats!

Ok, regular dog or cat treats are still fine, but remember that human candy needs to be kept far away from the reach of pets. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and those irresistibly crinkly wrappers can cause intestinal blockages in both dogs and cats. Additionally, many candies now contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic – even fatal – in dogs and likely also cats.

And it’s not just candy that can cause problems. Grapes and raisins are also toxic to dogs, and even treats like caramel apples can be dangerous.

Decorate With Pets in Mind

Dogs and cats are naturally curious and playful by nature. This can be disastrous when combined with certain types of Halloween decorations. Lit jack-o-lanterns can be a fire hazard if knocked over by a rambunctious or playful pet. Electrical and battery-operated decorations, while safer than open flames, can be chewed, causing a shock, or the batteries ingested, causing chemical burns or stomach blockages.

While you could normally feed corn or pumpkin to your pet with no adverse effects (indeed both can be quite healthy), Halloween decorations sit out for a long time and can contain mold — certain types of which can cause gastrointestinal upset and even neurologic problems. So keep cornstalks and gourds of all kinds away from pets.

Be Thoughtful with Costumes

If you choose to dress up your pet, make sure they aren’t stressed by wearing a costume.  Hiding, gnawing, or biting at the costume, and generally acting uncomfortable are all indications your pet isn’t as thrilled as you are. Get your pet used to wearing a costume far in advance of Halloween, ideally by putting on only a piece at a time with plenty of praise and treats. If your dog or cat still isn’t happy, a festive bandana or collar might be a good compromise.

A Quiet, Dark Place May Be Best

Let’s face it, not all pets adore the hubbub of a holiday. If you expect to have trick-or-treaters at your door, unless you have a very laid-back pet, it might be a very stressful time for them. Dogs want to protect the home from intruders. Cats often aren’t fond of strangers. Additionally, accidents happen and it’s surprisingly easy for a pet to slip out the open door and disappear into the night (remember to always have updated ID on your pets as well as updated information for their microchip).

For the sake of your pet, the best place for them might be a quiet, darkened room far from the front door where they can relax and enjoy the evening. Or better yet, if the weather is nice, greet your neighborhood ghosts and goblins from your front porch or driveway.

With a few precautions, your entire family can have a delightfully spooky night free of any emergencies. And if something does happen, we’ll be here.

If you think your pet may be having a medical emergency, give us a call any time at 802.863.2387.

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