- Keep your pets indoors, and when they do need to go out, go with them or keep them within sight. Sadly, there are some real monsters out there who like to target animals for unspeakably evil acts at Halloween. Cats in particular are at risk, but dogs and other animals, too, are sometimes hurt or killed for "fun." Keep them safe!
- Make sure your pets all wear identification. Watch your doors when trick-or-treaters arrive, but IDs will help your pets get home if someone slips out somehow.
- Candy is dandy, but not for pets. At a very basic level, they don't need the sugar. And sugar free is not the answer - xylotol, which is found in many sugar-free candies and gums, is deadly for dogs and cats, and it doesn't take much. Chocolate, too, is toxic for pets. So keep all candy out of reach! If you want to satisfy your dog's (or cat's!) sweet tooth, a carrot of piece of apple will do the trick.
- Make sure that candles, including those inside jack-o-lanterns, are out of reach. Curious noses and paws can get burned, and fur too close to a flame can catch fire. Beyond that, candles can get knocked over, so if you must have flames around pets, keep them high or inaccessible.
- If you plan to have your pet weat a costume, make sure it's safe and don't leave it on when you aren't there to supervise. Avoid dangly bits that pets may pull off and swallow, and be sure the costume doesn't interfere with your pet's ability to move, see, hear, breathe, pant, and drink water. Be aware, too, that pets can easily over heat when wearing body costumes, especially in the house - monitor your pet's comfort level frequently, and if s/he is panting heavily of seems to be unhappy, take the costume off. Remember, it's for YOUR pleasure, not your pet's.
- If your pet is shy or strangers, or shows any sign of agitation or aggression with people in costume, put him or her in a quiet, secure room. Even a normally friendly animal can become concerned about people in costumes, and may bite out of fear or protectiveness. Don't make your fun your pet's nightmare. If necessary, crate your pet in a quiet place with a good, safe chew toy to alleviate stress.
- Keep decorations, makeup, glow-in -the-dark things, and so on out of reach, especially if your pet is a chewer. Some things are toxic, and some can be swallowed and cause life-threatening obstructions.
©Sheila Webster Boneham, award-winning author of Drop Dead on Recall, an Animals in Focus mystery, Rescue Matters! How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals, and more books about dogs and cats. For more information, visit http://www.sheilaboneham.com.