Everyone loves Halloween… especially dentists, but that’s a story for another time.  Even pets love the excitement of it.  It can, however, be a stressful time for our furry friends.  All you need to do is take a few precautions for the evening to be a lot of fun for both dogs and “demons” alike.

First, Watch the Treats
Candy is great for trick-or-treaters, but for dogs, they can be downright scary. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to dogs, chief among them being chocolate in all forms.  Do not let your dog near chocolate, especially dark or semi-sweet chocolate.  In addition, any treats that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol can cause serious problems.  Some sugar-free gum and mints are dandy treats for kids, but very likely contain this sugar substitute. Some cookie recipes also call for xylitol, which is safe – as far as we know today – for children but in dogs can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemic shock) and even liver failure.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your Boca Raton veterinarian immediately.

Second, Watch the Decorations
While a glowing jack-o-lantern is certainly a Halloween icon and a “must have” for any self-respecting treat or treat-friendly home, it doesn’t take much for a rambunctious Lab to knock over a lit pumpkin and a) start a fire, and b) burn himself in the process. Also, remember that popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn, while nontoxic to dogs, can often produce serious stomach discomfort – and diarrhea – in pets who nibble on them.  If you favor electric decorations, as always, be watchful of wires.  It’s one thing to have electrical cords running along a wall behind a couch in your living room.  It’s quite another when those wires are out in the open where your dog can not only see them clearly, but gnaw on them easily.  A little know fact: Electrocution from chewing on an electrical cord is the single most common type of electrical injury for household pets. These types of injuries can result in burns to the surrounding areas (e.g., mouth, hair), with possible complications that include fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary edema) and high blood pressure in the arteries near the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Additionally, there have been reports of animals developing cataracts – an eye abnormality – after such injuries.  Get your pet to your local Boca Raton pet care specialist if he or she exhibits such signs or you even suspect that an electrical injury is a possibility.

Third, Choose Costumes Wisely
For some pets, wearing a costume can be an unsettling experience. The ASPCA recommends that you NOT put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. Give your pet a few days advance notice if you intend to dress him or her up.  Put the costume on a few days before the 31st and gauge the “love” factor. Make sure that the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, or bark.  Think of it this way… how would YOU like it?? Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Consider too that Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.


Lastly Keep Pets Calm and Easily Identifiable
Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers can often be scary and stressful for pets. All but the most social dogs should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog doesn’t dart outside and make sure your dog is wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver.