Come this Wednesday, October 31, you may not be planning on doing any dress-up guising yourself, but you can bet others will be.
And some of those dressed-up witches, ghouls and Ninja Turtles at the door will be complete strangers to your dog or cat. So how can you make sure your pet doesn’t freak out and end up having a helluva Halloween? Well, we suggest you take five minutes out of your day to read our tips for this and other Halloween hazards below:
Designate one room as a Pet Haven. Fill it with your cat or dog’s favourite toys, a handful of treats, your fluffball’s special blanket and you. In other words, sit there with your four-legged friend and play, feed and coo away the guising hours. That way if Fido or Tiddles does get scared by all the door knocking and excited commotion you can cuddle their fear away. Or something like that anyways…
Another reason for having a separate quiet room just for your cat, dog, house rabbit, guinea pig etc is to stop them fleeing out the front door if they get particularly scared. Some of those kids costumes are pretty realistic these days, after all. In fact, you might find your own heartbeat accelerating a little too quickly at times when you open the front door and come face-to-face with The Grim Reaper. We have in the past - and it wasn’t pleasant.
As far as your dog is concerned there are no sweet treats in your home at Halloween. That’s because they’re hidden away inside your pockets or on the highest shelf in the kitchen. Even if those sweets aren’t chocolate covered, they may well be made using xylitol. This is an artificial sweetener that’s just as dangerous for your four-legged one as chocolate, raisins and grapes. That’s because it can cause their blood sugar to plummet quickly - and drastically, prompting a sudden rush to the vet.
And if the sweet doesn’t get your furry loved one, then the wrapper might. Unlike us, dogs and cats don’t bother to take the paper off sweets. Horribly this could get lodged in your pet’s throat and cause him or her to choke. Another potential hazard from sweets for your pet is a painful bowel obstruction.
Meanwhile, too much sugar can also cause pancreatic problems - as well as not doing canine teeth any favours. And who wants a big vets bill with Christmas just around the corner? Definitely not us!
Who doesn’t love getting in to the Halloween holiday spirit and putting out pumpkins, setting out the odd skull and stringing up plastic spider-infested lace curtains? Just make sure your four-legged friend doesn’t eat the pumpkins or become entangled in the curtains. It’s easily done.
Meanwhile, don’t even get us started with lit candles! These are a hazard in themselves. Burnt paws, a singed tail and a trip to the vet isn’t any fun on what is supposed to be one of the best nights of the year for kids.
If it’s possible to make the time then take Fido out for a massive walk before the Guising Hour (which is usually 8pm around our way). That way he may just be too knackered to get excited about strangers in weird costumes coming to the door, or the smell of sugary treats lying around. And if you don’t have the time because you work 9am to 5pm then it’s certainly worth paying a dog walker to do it for you on this occasion.
If your cat has lost its collar for the umpteenth time and you haven’t yet got round to getting him or her a new one with an ID tag then we understand. But please do this ASAP. Like Fireworks night, Halloween is a time when a sudden noise or a stranger can make your favourite companion panic, run and disappear for days.
If your cat is black then definitely keep her or him indoors for the evening of Halloween. Black cats could be just too tempting for a passing dress-up witch or two not to pick up and try to take with them. Or worse, since black cats are often a companion to sinister types in ghoulish literature, they may be subject to some torment by some over-imaginative youngsters.
If you’re going to get your dog (or cat, for that matter) dressed up for Halloween - and yes, not many of us can resist it - then make sure the costume fits. Too tight and it’ll be restrictive, too loose and your pet can become entangled in it and hurt themselves. Also check to make sure the costume doesn’t have buttons or other parts that can be chewed off and then swallowed. That way lies misery and a rubbish costume; not to mention choking and a sore tummy.
Even if he or she hasn’t run away, they may still be spooked by all the festivities going on to the extent they start scratching the furniture or constantly barking (hiding or constantly meowing in the case of a cat). Cuddles and calming is the way round this.
If you’re worried they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have keep an eye on them and watch out for certain signs. These include vomiting, restlessness, frequent or unresolved thirst and difficulty defecating. If they show signs of muscle tremor or seizures then take them to the vets immediately.
Meanwhile, it’s not only pets that can get freaked. Some of the younger guisers who come to your door may just start panicking if they see a large dog in the hallway - especially one who is bouncing around daft because of all the excitement. Cats too can spook some people. And this is yet another reason to have that special calm haven in your home for those favourite little furry ones.
We hope the above has been of some help and doesn’t sound too much like a prescriptive ‘Don’t Do’ list. Pay heed though and you and your pet are guaranteed to have the happiest of Halloweens.