Halloween can be a spooky time for pets — and not in a good way.
Halloween is when the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter deals with more lost pets than any other time of the year.
The constant opening and closing of the front door as trick-or-treaters come by present many opportunities for cats, dogs and other pets to surreptitiously get out of the house. They may be especially inclined to do so if there are fireworks or other alarming sounds that upset and disorient them.
The best thing to do, if possible, is segregate pets in a single room with the door shut and, ideally, some calming white noise like music or a television show that doesn’t have too many explosions or other unusual sounds. Many animals are very frightened of exploding sounds like firecrackers. Keeping them happy and healthy at this time means protecting them as much as possible from those noises.
Please make sure, if they are not already, that they have a collar on with identification and a microchip or tattoo to identify them. In the event your pet does escape the house, this will ensure you are reunited as soon as possible, which will alleviate your upset but, even more importantly, end their anxiety as soon as possible.
Other things to be aware of …
Everybody associates Halloween with sweet treats, but they are not sweet for cats and dogs. Chocolate is especially toxic and can even be fatal if consumed by Trixie or Brutus. Sugar-free candies containing the substitute xylitol are also especially dangerous – and any kind of food that an animal does not usually receive can be unhealthy in large quantities.
Be especially aware of safety around Halloween decorations. Jack-o’-lanterns with burning candles in them can attract curious pups and kittens who could easily turn them over and spread a fire. Battery-powered and electrical decorations are safer than open flames, of course, but for curious animals, anything out of the ordinary can be a temptation to chew. This can cause electrocution or shock and batteries can cause chemical burns if chewed.
Also, keep glow sticks away from pets. The content inside glow sticks is not actually toxic, but the taste is disgusting (apparently) and a pet who gets a taste of it might drool or paw at their mouth and become upset. If this happens, encourage your pet to eat and drink.
Other decorations that are not usually around the house, like dried corn or gourds, are not necessarily toxic, but may be an attractant for your pet and can cause stomach troubles.
There are certainly some pets who don’t mind being dressed up in a costume, especially those who are used to having themselves cloaked in a rain jacket and such. But for a lot of cats and dogs who are not used to this, a costume can be traumatizing. In addition to the emotional impact, costume parts that can be chewed off can be a choking hazard and costumes that are not perfectly suited might entangle your pet and harm them.
Please do not leave your dog or cat outside at this time. Remember, fire crackers and other fireworks are not limited to Halloween night but can be set off at any time of day or night in the weeks surrounding Halloween. Pay extra attention right now to where your pets are and be sure they are safe.
Take precautions and have a safe, happy Halloween. If your pet goes missing, or if you find a lost animal, please contact the RAPS City of Richmond Animal Shelter ASAP at 604-275-2036.