MOREHEAD CITY — While candy and sweets are the desired treats for children on Halloween, they can be a dangerous trick for pets.
Animal health professionals, like veterinarian Dr. Julianne Davis-Christ with Mitchell Village Animal Hospital, said some candies and treats are toxic to pets.
“Keep all candy out of reach, even off countertops,” she said Wednesday.
Dr. Davis-Christ pointed out chocolate is particularly toxic, especially dark chocolate. Plus, it’s not just sweets that can cause an emergency trip to the animal hospital.
“Raisins and grapes would be the worst kind of potential Halloween treat and can cause kidney failure in small quantities,” she said. “Halloween pumpkins, candy corn and all of the kids’ spoils from trick or treating should also be out of reach, including wrapper and string that can cause an intestinal blockage.”
Dr. Christ-Davis said there are other ways to ensure pets remain stress free and safe during traditional observances of the holiday, including wearing costumes.
“Putting pets in costumes can be fun and a great bonding experience with families. Just be sure they are supervised and the costume is removed and put away after use,” she said. “It should not limit movement or sight or the dog’s ability to bark.”
Many dogs and cats will chew or eat portions of the costume, particularly ribbons or string, which can be dangerous. Pets can also get tangled or hung up in the fabric, “so always remove right away, after cute pictures of course,” Dr. Davis-Christ said.
She further suggested letting a pet get acclimated to the costume prior to wearing it for an extended period.
Dr. Davis-Christ also discouraged parents from allowing children to take pets with them while trick or treating.
“Taking pets trick or treating is an unnecessary risk with multiple chances for pets to be frightened and get loose,” she said.
For those who insist on taking their pets with them, make sure the animal has a reflective collar with proper identification in case it gets lost.
Another stressor for dogs and cats can be the constant doorbell ringing and knocking.
“Doorbell ringing is distressing to some dogs. To alleviate this, you can keep your pet in a quiet area with a sound machine or loud TV and encourage people to knock or watch for trick-or-treaters,” she said. “If your pet is particularly sensitive and nervous, sedatives from your veterinarian may be helpful.”
She added that people should keep their pets inside on Halloween.
Those who suspect their pet has ingested something unsafe during Halloween should immediately call their veterinarian. They can also call the 24-hour American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ poison control center hotline at 888-426-4435.
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email [email protected]; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.