Halloween is fun, but it can be difficult for pets.
Dog and cat owners, especially, have to take special care during this time of year.
First, watch what your animals eat.
“Any kind of chocolate, nuts or nutty candy, candy corn, hard candies are all toxic to pets,” said Laura Donat, behavior health services specialist at Michigan Humane. “Sweets containing raisins or grapes are particularly toxic and can lead to organ failure. Look for the ingredient Xylitol, commonly used in sugar-free candy or gum as an artificial sweetener. Xylitol is extremely toxic and can be fatal to some dogs.”
Michael Palmer, owner of Premier Pet Supply, with locations across metro Detroit, including Riverview, agrees.
“Chocolate consumption in dogs is one of the top issues around Halloween,” he said. “It can be very harmful and even fatal if eaten in large volume, so you have to be really careful.”
The darker the chocolate, the worse it is for your pets, he said.
Candy wrappers are part of the issue, too.
“Candy wrappers are especially appealing to our cat friends who may like the sound and crunch of a wrapper, but it is extremely important they do not accidentally consume the plastic or the sugary contents inside,” Donat said.
Another trigger around Halloween — the doorbell. When it goes on and off for trick-or-treaters, that can really get your pets anxious.
“Halloween can be a difficult time for dogs, with an influx of strangers in crazy outfits approaching the house with their ‘trick-or-treat’ request, ringing the doorbell or knock on the door, or even the increased traffic on the street or sidewalk,” Donat said. “Dogs may react to this stressor by barking, becoming more excitable, jumping around, or they may hide in a quiet area away from all the activity.”
Palmer says it helps pets to have as much exercise as possible and long walks earlier in the day to calm them and offset some of that extra energy.
“Also, keep them in a quiet place in the house or keep them by the TV, so they don’t hear the commotion, as much,” Palmer says. “If it’s a dog that’s high-strung, an all-natural calming treat or supplement can also help, with B vitamins, melatonin or even CBD.”
Donat adds: “If your dog is reactive and barking, you may need to encourage them to the opposite end of the house with a high-value rawhide, long-lasting chew, new toy, peanut butter kong or enrichment to help relieve their stress and associate all the activity with something positive. You can turn on ‘Bird TV’ to help them focus on something else, or play some calming music at a reasonable volume to help them relax.”
Finally, keep an eye on Halloween decorations.
“Just like with candy wrappers, your pet should be monitored around Halloween decorations to make sure they are not consuming them or even chewing on the decoration or power cords,” Donat says. “Another thing to consider is how your pet responds to seasonal decorations.
“Dogs can be sensitive to flashing lights, loud music, high pitched cackles, ‘animated spooks’ like the sleeping scarecrow that likes to jump out at you, and any new and unfamiliar noises or movements. It is important to recognize signs of stress and discomfort in your pet and adjust to help them cope with the evening.”
If you suspect your pet may have consumed candy that is toxic, contact your veterinarian or a Pet Poison Hotline at 855-746-7661.