If you haven’t noticed our Facebook post yet on our favourite costumed cats and dogs, you probably aren’t aware of how excited we are for Hallowe’en at Bickford Park Animal Hospital. And we’re not the only ones! Americans are expected to spend over $370 million this year on pet costumes alone. Despite our excitement, our pets may not exactly feel the same about good ol’ Hallow’s Eve. The costumes, the noise, the unfamiliarity of the night can be overwhelming. Here are some great tips to keep the night running as smoothly and delightfully spooky as possible:
1. No candy! This is a basic rule all cat and dog owners should adhere to. Chocolate in particular is the culprit that poses the greatest threat. Be especially wary of them getting into dark or baking chocolate, as this can cause the more fatal reactions in dogs and cats. Xylitol is an artifical sweetener that is becoming more commonplace as an ingredient in sugary treats. This is another toxic substance that could greatly endanger your pet’s health. If you are unsure if your dog or cat ate something with xylitol, always read the ingredients, and call your veterinarian, your emergency veterinary clinic, or animal poison control for guidance on what to do next.
2. Hallowe’en decorations such as pumpkins and cobs of corn are not toxic, but can cause stomach discomfort.
3. All those spooky sound effects, lights and props that need to be plugged in should be kept as far away as possible from your animals. Chewing on these cords can cause severe cuts, burns or even a fatal electrical shock.
4. Consider battery powered candles to put inside your jack-o-lanterns, as pets can easily knock over real candles and start a fire (take extra caution with curious kittens!)
5. Because of the novelty of this eerie night, adding unnecessary stress to your pet by putting them in a costume can really put them on edge. This can make their behaviour unpredictable, and they could forever associate Hallowe’en as being comparable to a visit at the vet! Scary! Make sure your cat is completely comfortable with their costumes (they especially hate things being put on their head) to ensure the night go as smoothly as possible.
6. If you deem your dog or cat comfortable with dressing up, make sure you do a test run before the big night. Some costumes can fit wrong and can constrict natural movement, breathing and hearing. Some costumes can actually cause allergic reactions! These are all things you’ll want to ensure don’t happen prior to the big night, or else you’ll be in for a real fright!
7. Make sure all costumes are solid garments that cannot be easily chewed, ripped off or torn apart. Not only will this prevent a nasty foreign body removal surgery, but it will make sure your animal doesn’t choke.
8. While showing off your pet’s costume to complete strangers might be rewarding for you, most animals will be stressed out by the amount of strangers walking up to their door. Keep your pets in a room separate from the front door, especially during peak trick-or-treating hours.
9. Make sure if you do have your cats or dogs in the room where your front door is, that they aren’t going to bolt. Always leave only enough room for you to fit between the door and the door frame.
10. In the unfortunate circumstance that your animal does manage to escape your house, ensure before the big night that all of your pets have microchips and collars with their name and your/your veterinarian’s contact information so that reuniting with them will be much less difficult.