Spooky season is here! The little ghosts and goblins that come to the door, the haunted houses, the scary movies, and of course all the candy! And it’s not just for kids! Pet owners are jumping in on the fun! From Howl-aween treats and toys to costumes and parades, there’s no shortage of ways to bring our furry friends into the festivities.
According to a Business Insider article (October 2019), Americans spent half a billion dollars on costumes for their pets alone! That’s double of what was spent a decade ago.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the fun but as a first time pet owner, what should you know?
We check in with Dr. Lauren Adelman, DVM, DACVIM, Internal Medicine Specialist and PetSmart Vet Expert to find out more…
It must be tempting for our pets to get into our kids Halloween haul. What are the worst treat culprits for our pets?
Dr. Adelman: Oh yes, VERY tempting! Which is why we often see pets coming through the emergency room this time of year for various toxin exposures. Of course, when we think of Halloween we immediately think of chocolate, which is probably the worst and most common culprit. Sometimes pets even eat the wrapper which can further contribute to gastrointestinal upset! Other common Halloween food items that can be toxic to pets include raisins, gum and general overindulgence of candy and sweets.
PetSmart Canada has pet-safe alternatives to give your pet something extra tasty this Halloween including honey-flavored Gourdgeous Cookie dog treat, a Creepy Cone treat for small pets and crunchy Boo Bars, featuring flavours of pumpkin and cinnamon.
What are some common signs of ingesting something not meant for pets, when should we call our vet? or go to the hospital?
Dr. Adelman: If you witnessed your pet eating something it shouldn’t please seek veterinary attention immediately. Vomiting can be induced within the first few hours of ingestion and can prevent further progression of signs. If the ingestion was not witnessed, usually the first signs that something is wrong are gastrointestinal in nature – vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. If these signs are mild, it may be reasonable to monitor for a few hours. However, if the signs progress in severity and if your pet stops eating or drinking, you should call your vet or seek medical attention immediately.
Aside from the usual treats, how about pumpkins and other seasonal things?
Dr. Adelman: Pumpkin is generally considered safe for dogs and cats, but too much can cause digestive issues. Additionally, rotting pumpkin can harbour bacteria – make sure to keep Jack-O-Lanterns safely away from your pets!
We often get excited for our Halloween/harvest decor too. What should we be aware of here?
Dr. Adelman: Halloween and fall decor can pose significant threats to pets. Some hazards such as lit candles which can cause fires, thermal injuries, or burns. Scented candles can also be toxic. Other dangerous decorations include glow sticks and fake blood (possible poisons) and rubber eyeballs (choking hazard).
If you want your pet to get in on the spooky fun safely, you can check out costumes and toys from PetSmart. A Halloween Woozy Wobler Ring Leader or a Hocus Pocus cat tunnel are fa-boo-lous options.
Our pet shows anxiety or gets excited every time the doorbell rings. Anything we can do to help them?
Dr. Adelman: Before the trick-or-treating starts, put your pets in a quiet room or crate with soft music where they will feel safe from all of the Halloween activity as it can be common for pets to escape or try to run away when stressed. Make sure to give them their favourite treat too! To minimize noise inside the house, sit or have your candy bowl outside to keep trick-or-treaters from knocking on the door and/or ringing the bell.
Keep your pets at home when going out trick-or-treating. Masks and costumes can change how people look and smell to a pet. Dogs can be easily excited by Halloween commotion and a dog bite or lost dog is not something you want to ruin your fun!
We love to dress up our pets too! What advice do you have for us?
Dr. Adelman: We all love a cute pet costume, but it is important to consider your pet’s personality when choosing what type of costume they may tolerate. Make sure the costume doesn’t impair your pet’s vision, movement, or air intake. Masks and hats around the face can be okay for a short picture but may make your pet uncomfortable if kept on for too long. A costume that is comfortable and allows your pet to move freely is key. Make sure to remove any chewable parts that could come off and be ingested.
If your pet is uncomfortable or anxious, take the costume off! Signs of discomfort include folded down ears, tucked tail or hunched posture. There are many great options at PetSmart.ca in the Halloween shop where you can find one that works best for your pet!
Stay safe and have fun!
*pet costumes and toys shown here can be found at PetSmart in Canada and USA.