Halloween not just for humans

Darth Wylee, a rat terrier and beagle mix won the Lariat’s Best Pet Costume contest. This 2.5 year old winner is owned by Jared Payton, director of University Parks. (Courtesy Photo)
Darth Wylee, a rat terrier and beagle mix won the Lariat’s Best Pet Costume contest. This 2.5 year old winner is owned by Jared Payton, director of University Parks.
(Courtesy Photo)
By Rebecca Jung

Trick or treat. Halloween is neat. Don’t give Fido something bad to eat.

It’s Halloween time again. With all the festivities, there are many dangers for pets. Candy is a common danger, but there are many more than most pet owners even considered.

Outside pets need special consideration on Halloween, as it presents traffic, temptations for aggression and outdoor decorations.

“Outside pets need to be brought in where they are safe and comfortable,” said Carrie Kuehl, Animal Birth Control Clinic director. “Cats really like to be in dark small places, so even just putting them into the bathroom for a night would be ideal.”

Outside pets are also in danger because of possible Halloween tricks and pranks, PetMD online states; black or dark cats are one of the most targeted animals for pranks on Halloween.

Increased traffic also presents a danger for outside pets. These pets in their excitement or out of nervousness could easily dodge into a busy street and be run over, said Dr. Kristen Dodson, a veterinarian at Hewitt Veterinary Hospital.

The Pet Safety Lady Christina Selter writes in the Bark Buckle Up , an online pet safety site, “Reflective gear or costume with reflection or blinking lights will help to insure you and your pet are safer while trick-or-treating.”

People looking for a safe alternative to trick or treating with a pet should look for animal friendly community events.

Indoor dangers are present as well. For pets that have already been separated from the Halloween activities that still appear to be upset or nervous, there are things a pet owner can do.

“Play soothing music, leave the TV on, and make sure they are in familiar and comfortable surroundings,” Dodson said. “If really concerned speak with your veterinarian.”

The staff at the Animal Birth Control Clinic of Waco compiled a list of possible dangers to pets on Halloween: candy, costume parts, cupcakes and gum.

The sweetener in gum, Xylitol, is toxic for dogs in any amount, as well as chocolate and other small items they should not ingest such as string, in addition to decorations both indoor and outdoor.

Chocolate and gum present the most danger for pets, but the temptation to munch on other things such as a corn cob used for decorations could cause an intestinal blockage, Dodson said.

A common Halloween treat, popcorn, can be dangerous as well if it’s hot or eaten in large quantities, Dodson said.

“I would recommend not feeding ‘people food’ of any kind.” Safe fun dog treats can be purchased at Target, Dogtopia Waco and Wolfgang Pet Bakery in Hewitt.

It’s important to be aware of pets’ behavior and notice any changes that might indicate something is awry with a pet, such as poisoning, anxiety or serious behavior issues.

Owners who suspect their pet might have ingested something toxic should first determine what the pet ingested, and then call their vet, the Waco Animal Emergency Clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center, Dodson said.

When it comes to pets in costume, there is one key thing to remember.

“Make sure that your pet is actually interested in being dressed up,” Kuehl said. “You don’t want them to be hurt trying to get an item of a costume off. It all depends on the individual pet, but I would never leave a pet in a costume unsupervised.”

As for Halloween costumes, make sure your pets movement is not impeded and your pet still has the ability to bark or meow, Selter said. For pets that don’t like costumes, a bandana is always a safe option.

Something else to consider with your pets on Halloween is what activity might be taking place within its vicinity.

A dog that thinks it’s fun to bark at strangers, but can also be territorial at times, if fun or scary costumes are thrown into that mix with that dog, then that dog could become very territorial and a difficult or scary situation could develop, Keuhl said.

“A good way to figure this out beforehand is to do a test run with friends,” she said.