Halloweentime is here, a time to keep yourself and your pet safe

October 16, 2012 

Calling all ghosts, goblins, ghouls and superheroes!

Children, adults and pets, it's that time of year to dress up in your costume and have some fun. Whether it is scary, funny, your favorite hero or just mom's or dad's old clothes, don't forget your pet dog and cat.

They are part of the Halloween spirit, too.

But Halloween can be a stressful time for your pet. These simple tips are important to keep you and your pet safe.

You know your pet better than anyone so make sure they are included in your plan whether you are staying home to hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters or going around the neighborhood yourself with family or friends.

If you stay home, remember the doorbell will be ringing. Those at the door may not be your ordinary visitor. The visitors will be children and maybe some adults dressed in costumes, not normal in your pet's world.

These visitors could pose a stressful environment for your pet. These visitors are strangers to your pet and even the friendliest pet may become unexpectedly aggressive or fearful. Keep your pet in a quiet and safe place.

You got a pumpkin, carved it with your favorite design and plan to put it out for everyone to enjoy your masterful artwork. Keeping the jack-o-lantern within your pet's reach could be a potential problem and fire hazard. The dog's wagging tail or your cat running around the house could easily tip over a lit candle in the pumpkin, causing burns or a fire.

Make sure to keep your carved pumpkin masterpiece out of the area where your pet may have access.

Black cats and Halloween have been known to go together for several reasons. Black cats blend into the night and are a scary figure alongside the witches.

A Halloween icon is one thing, but sometimes cats, especially black cats, are the victims of cruel pranksters. Make sure your cats remain indoors so they can be safe from any potential danger.

For most people on Halloween, candy, lots of candy, is normal. You purchase candy to hand out to the trick-or-treaters, and if you do your own door-to-door candy gathering, bring home a whole lot more of it.

Candy comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. The most popular is chocolate; a favorite to most, including myself.

Chocolate can be toxic to your pet. Even if your pet has eaten small amounts of chocolate, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Some other signs of chocolate toxicity include tremors, increased heart rate, nervousness, and in severe cases, seizures and death.

If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, you should consult your veterinarian.

Halloween decorations are a great way to celebrate the day, and night, but you should alwaysuse care around pets because they may not know the difference and could chew cords or the decorations themselves, which could be harmful or even deadly for your pet.

What about all the costumes for people and pets? Costumes are fun for people but may not be so much fun for your pet.

Make sure your pet would like to wear the costume before making them keep it on. The costume may be cute, funny or even scary, but make sure it doesn't bother your pet or wearing it is unsafe by restricting movement, vision, hearing or most importantly, the ability to breathe.

Avoid costumes with small or dangling accessories that your pet could chew on and choke. Your costumed pet should be supervised at all times.

Halloween is a fun-filled time for children and adults. Be sure to have fun and enjoy Halloween!

If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky.

One day, we all would like to be lucky, too.

For information on free and low-cost spay and neuter programs,call our information line at 941-749-3067.

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.

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