Halloween's traditions of candy, costumes and trick-or-treating can be a potentially dangerous and distressing time for pets, warns the Ottawa Humane Society. Extra caution should be taken to protect pets from Halloween hazards, including keeping pets safely indoors to shelter them from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents.
The Ottawa Humane Society recommends taking these precautions to help keep pets safe this Halloween:
- Don't take the family dog along when you're trick-or-treating. Even dogs who are normally sociable and relaxed may become difficult to handle during the noise and confusion of the festivities. If they get loose, they may dart into traffic or become lost. It's especially important to keep black cats indoors during the period around the holiday, as they're a target of pranksters.
- Parents should keep their children away from strange animals. Animals are easily frightened at the sight of noisy, costumed children and may bite.
- Use decorations with caution. Keep pets away from lighted pumpkins and electrical cords to avoid shocks and burns.
- Keep candy out of your pet's reach. Chocolate can be toxic to many animals including dogs, cats and ferrets. Wrappers can be dangerous too. Remember that any change in an animal's diet can cause digestive upset.
- Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know he enjoys it. Confining costumes can cause stress and injury to pets if it restricts their movement, hearing or ability to breath, bark or see, and small or dangling pieces may be chewed off and cause choking or intestinal obstruction. Never leave your costumed pets unsupervised.
- Make sure your pets are properly identified. In case of accidental escape, a collar, tag and microchip are your best bet your animal will make it home. Frequently-opened doors provide a great opportunity for animals, especially cats, to run out of the house unnoticed.
"While Halloween is a time of fun and excitement for kids and adults, it can be distressing and potentially dangerous for our pets," says Bruce Roney, OHS Executive Director. "Far too often we hear stories of animals being abused or exposed to avoidable dangers at Halloween. With a little caution, Halloween can be a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone."
If you observe an animal in immediate distress or danger at Halloween or any time, please contact the Ottawa Humane Society's Emergency Animal Protection Services at 613-725-1532.