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Are You Ready For Halloween?

Some no-trick tips for keeping pets safe during Halloween festivities

Halloween is a big deal in my neighborhood — kids, golf carts and hayrides are traditionally abundant on every street. Even with damage all around, I think this year will be an especially busy one as people are eager to have some normalcy and partake in the fun.

While most people enjoy all that Halloween brings, our pets may not be fans of the festivities. Further, it is not necessarily the best activity to include the pets in. Following are some trick-free tips to keep our furry friends safe among the ghosts and goblins:

LEAVE THE PETS AT HOME: I cannot stress this enough. Going along with the family for trick-or-treating may make pets nervous and irritable. Large crowds of shrieking kids darting about do not make for a calm, relaxed pet. If a dog is protective, he may perceive other individuals on the street as threats to his family and may snap at someone, especially if they are in costume. It is also hard to monitor for dropped candy that a dog may sniff out and consume — a dangerous circumstance, especially in the dark.

KEEP PETS INDOORS: Pets may not be used to all of the extra foot traffic and activity. In addition, some may be tempted to taunt a pet in a yard, even a fenced yard. Candy or objects may be thrown at pets, and black dogs and cats are often targeted during Halloween. For the safety of the pet, keep him locked up or indoors during the trick-or-treating hours. If you need to take your pet out, make sure he is on a leash at all times or supervised if in a fenced yard.

KEEP AWAY FROM THE FRONT DOOR: Groups of kids running up, ringing the doorbell and yelling “trick-or-treat” can be frightening to pets, especially dogs and cats that are already timid or nervous and not used to visitors. Pets may also try to escape out of the door. Put up a gate, or keep them in a room in another part of the home, safe and away from the temptation to greet visitors or guard their family.

CANDY MAY BE HARMFUL: Chocolate is a big no-no for pets, and lots of other Halloween treats, such as sugar-free candies, contain xylitol, which can cause liver failure in pets. Many have asked me why chocolate is bad. While not always fatal, consuming chocolate can result in significant illnesses for both cats and dogs.

It contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine-like people can. This makes them more sensitive to the chemicals’ effects. The amount of theobromine varies with the type of chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to dogs.

Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolates are highly concentrated and contain – mg of theobromine per ounce, while common milk chocolate contains about – mg per ounce.

Signs of chocolate poisoning can take several hours to develop and can last for days. They may include vomiting and diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, and a racing heart rate. In severe cases, muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure can happen. It is important to contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate.

To avoid a potential medical emergency, make sure the kids do not try to share their candy with the pets in the days following Halloween.