Halloween's traditions of candy, costumes and trick-or-treating can be a potentially dangerous and distressing time for pets, warns the Ontario SPCA. Extra caution should be taken to protect pets from Halloween hazards, including keeping pets safely indoors to shelter them from children's "pranks" or other cruelty-related incidents - particularly black cats, the most frequent victims of abuse at Halloween.
Other precautions the Ontario SPCA recommends to help keep pets safe this Halloween include:Ensure your pets are wearing collars with ID tags
. If for any reason they escape and become lost there is a greater chance they will be returned to you if they are clearly identified with a tag, ideally combined with a microchip. For many pets the best way to spend Halloween is resting in a secure area within the house with a favourite toy, comfortable bedding and soothing music, where they won't have a chance to be spooked by strangers and dart outdoors.Use decorations, such as pumpkins, fake cobwebs and decorative corn with caution
. If ingested, many decorations can cause your pet gastrointestinal upset and even result in intestinal blockage. Lighted pumpkins or standing candles pose an additional risk. Pets, especially curious kittens, may knock candles over, cause a fire and/or get burned. Move electric lights, wires and cords or liquid potpourri beyond your pet's reach. If electric cords or lights are chewed, pets can receive a life-threatening electrical shock or damage their mouth from shards of glass; and exposure to both heated and cool liquid potpourri product can result in severe damage to the skin, mouth and eyes.Keep candy out of your pet's reach
. Chocolate, depending on the amount ingested, can be toxic to many animals including dogs, cats and ferrets. Generally the less sweet the chocolate the more dangerous it could be. In fact, as little as ¼ ounce of baking chocolate can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate in a 10-pound dog. As well, if candies or gum containing the sweetener xylitol are ingested in large quantities it can produce a sudden drop in blood sugar for pets, resulting in depression, incoordination and seizures.Keep candy wrappers away from pets
. If ingested, aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers can cause vomiting and produce intestinal blockage.
Maintain your pet's normal diet and prevent access to alcoholic beverages. Even changing you pet's diet for one meal can give your cat or dog severe indigestion and diarrhea, and alcohol ingestion can cause your pet to become very ill and weak - and may even cause your pet to go into a coma or to suffer respiratory failure.Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know he enjoys it
. Confining costumes can cause stress and injury to pets if it restricts their movement, hearing or ability to breath, bark or see, and small or dangling pieces may be chewed off and cause choking or intestinal obstruction. Never leave your costumed pets unsupervised.
"While Halloween is a time of fun and excitement for kids and adults, it can be distressing and potentially dangerous for our pets," says Keri Semenko, Acting Director of Animal Sheltering and Wildlife Services for the Ontario SPCA. "Far too often the Ontario SPCA hears stories of animals being abused or exposed to avoidable dangers at Halloween. Keep your pets secure and safe inside the home, choose decorations with caution, and explain to children why they shouldn't share their treats with pets. With a little caution Halloween can be a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone."
Members of the public are urged to report anything suspicious related to animals to their local Ontario SPCA branch or affiliated humane society. Cruelty to animals is a crime and abuse causing pain and suffering should not be dismissed as a prank.
If you suspect your pet may have ingested a toxic product or substance contact your local veterinary clinic immediately.
To report suspected animal abuse call the Ontario SPCA at 1-888-ONT-SPCA (668-7722) extension 1, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), your local Ontario SPCA branch, affiliated humane society or police.