Keeping your kitty safe this Halloween doesn’t have to be tricky!

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Halloween is a much-anticipated fun and festive time of year for many families.  Unfortunately, we veterinarians see far too many of our patients exposed to avoidable dangers during this holiday.  Read along to learn more about the most common problems seen on Halloween and how to ensure the safest and most enjoyable Halloween for your furry family member this year!

 

Halloween Decoration Dangers:  Cats don’t understand that the lit jack-o-lanterns and other new decorative items around the house are just for decoration!  Spooky and silly decor are a common cause for vet visits this time of year.

  • Commonly ingested decor:  
        • Cats love to play with fake cobwebs, plastic spiders, streamers and glow sticks.  These very popular items are highly dangerous if swallowed. They can cause deadly blockages in the stomach and intestines!
  • Lit pumpkins
          • Beware- many curious cats will accidentally burn themselves or knock over a lit pumpkin. Keep these type items well out of reach! Burnt kitty paws and whiskers are no fun at all!
  • Scary décor
        • Scary looking decorations, especially those that make noises, are especially terrifying and anxiety-inducing to your pet! Fluffy can’t possibly understand why you’ve allowed a talking bat or witch to invade her home and may spend hours stalking the new intruder!

    Stash the Treats!  Keep the candy bowl out of “paws-reach” this Halloween and don’t let your kiddos stash candy in their rooms… Fluffy’s nose will surely find their hidden treasure!

      • Halloween “treats” often contain ingredients that can be toxic to cats.
        • Chocolate: All forms of chocolate- ESPECIALLY dark or baking chocolate- can be dangerous to your cat! Chocolate can cause vomiting, restlessness, heart disturbances and even death.
        • Xylitol: Although xylitol toxicity has yet to be established in cats, it’s better to be safe than sorry. In dogs, very small amounts of xylitol (found in sugar-free candies and gums) can cause rapid, life threatening blood sugar problems.
        • Almonds:  Almonds are a common intestinal blockage found in cats.
        • Candy wrappers:  Often, cats gobble up accessible candy… wrappers and all!  Foil and cellophane wrappers can cause big trouble (stomach and intestine blockages) when swallowed.
      • In addition to toxins and items that can cause blockages, intestinal upset and pancreatitis can result from feeding your kitty an abnormal diet.
      • Keep it safe! Remind everyone in your home to “treat” Fluffy with cat treats only this Halloween! 
  • If you suspect that your cat has ingested something harmful, DO NOT WAIT- get to a vet IMMEDIATELY. 
  • Many times, we vets only have a matter of hours (usually, about 2-4) to intervene and save your pet, before the substance is either absorbed into the bloodstream or passed from the stomach into the intestines!  
  • Costumes can more scary that you may realize

    • Most everyone will agree that a cat dressed up for Halloween is a sight to behold! What’s not so awesome is seeing a pet get hurt or suffer anxiety because of a costume.  If you plan to dress your pet up this Halloween, please consider the following when choosing a costume for Fluffy:
      • A costume should not restrict movement, hearing, vision or the ability to meow or breathe.
      • Be especially careful with costumes that have parts that can get “hung up” and cause strangulation when your cat is moving, such as capes.
      • Try the costume on several times before “the big night” to get Fluffy comfortable with it.
      • If your pets display signs of being uncomfortable, anxious or distressed, let them wear “their birthday suit” this year. 
      • Festive bandannas can be a great alternative for those pets who don’t enjoy wearing costumes!

    Create a safe environment

      • Pets should be confined in an area of the home away from the door and the commotion of excited trick-or-treaters. Other things to consider:
        • Consider turning the volume of the doorbell down
        • Set up a candy station on the porch or in the driveway to intercept excited trick-or-treaters before they make it to the door
        • If your pet typically gets upset about the doorbell and people knocking at the door, talk to your vet about a calming supplement for the evening.
        • Consider putting your pet in her kennel for the evening with some safe toys and treats.
        • Close the blinds and turn on some “white noise” or the television to help drown out the noise from the door
    Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween!
        • Increased foot traffic that’s flamboyant and dressed as zombies, dragons and other non-human creatures is sure to make the most laid-back pet a little anxious and on edge.
        • Providing a safe, stress-free environment reduces the chance that your pet could become injured or accidentally injure others, so if Fluffy is usually outside, let her enjoy a few pampered hours in the house or the garage while the Halloween festivities are ongoing.
        • Although it’s hard to imagine, mischief-makers have been known to injure, tease, poison and even steal pets on Halloween.  Black cats are at an especially high risk of being mistreated during this time of year. In fact, many adoption agencies refuse to adopt out black cats in the month of October as a precaution.
    ID’s please!
      • Many times, a panicked pet can bolt out of the house with all the commotion of trick-or-treaters and the frequent door opening.  Make sure the info on the tag is up-to-date!