Halloween is right around the corner! Time to break out the fun size candy bars (and try not to eat them all), put up some decorations, and get your costume together. It's also time to think about pet safety. Halloween can be a stressful time for pets--strangers coming to your door, lots of commotion, and, if you dress your pet up, a costume they may or may not want to be in.
Now, I'm not the sort of person who gets scared by ghost stories, or even horror movies, but what does scare me is the thought of something bad happening to my dog. (Have you seen the comic I draw about my dog, This American Dog? I kinda love that little scruff-ball, Ira G, a LOT.)
It got me thinking...what are the worst things that could happen to a pet during Halloween, (within reason), and what is the best way to handle these kinds of situations? After some thinking and research, I came up with a worst case survival guide for pets on Halloween, so that we, as pet-lovers, can plan for the best while being prepared for the worst.
What to do if your dog runs away.
|With rambunctious trick or treaters coming to your door, there's opportunity for a dog to get freaked out and bolt. That said, it's best to keep your pet in a separate room or in their crate if they have a tendency to try to sneak out. If your dog manages to dash out the door, and you lose sight of them, grab a leash, a flashlight, your phone, and some treats or a favorite toy and start searching for them. Circle your house, and walk around your neighborhood calling for your pet in a friendly (not angry or threatening) tone. Shake your treat bag and, if the toys make noise, use it to help draw your dog over to you. Tell the trick or treaters you pass to keep an eye out, and alert your neighbors. The more eyes looking for your dog, the better.
Hopefully your dog has an updated dog tag on; if you're reading this and
they don't, order one right away! If you act quickly, your dog can't
get too far, and you'll be reunited in no time at all.
What to do if your dog eats chocolate.
|Here's the thing about dogs and chocolate: the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for your dog, and the more they've consumed, the worse it is for potentially toxic poisoning. Depending on the size of your dog, if they've ingested a few M&Ms or a small bite of a candy bar, they're probably not going to develop chocolate poisoning, but you'll still want to watch them carefully.
If your dog has ingested the following amounts of chocolate, you'll need to call your vet immediately for advice. (And if you don't have your vet's phone number programmed into your phone, do that now.) You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.
Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs
Milk chocolate: 0.5 ounces or more per pound of body weight
Dark or semi-sweet: 0.13 ounces or more per pound of body weight
Bakers chocolate: Any amount can be very dangerous and considered an emergency.
amounts of chocolate can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. Larger
amounts can cause elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures, and collapse.
sooner your dog is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat potential
poisoning, so be sure to call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline
(800-213-6680) right away if you suspect your dog has eaten some
What to do if your dog eats part of their costume.
|Some pets don't mind getting dressed up in costumes while others are anything but happy about it. If your pet doesn't like playing dress up, do them a kindness by not making them wear a costume. If they're a ham for attention and don't mind wearing a costume, make sure that it's not too tight, that your pet can breath properly and move freely around in it, and that there aren't pieces that can break off or be chewed by your pet. If, you discover that your pet has tried to “chew” his or her way out of a costume, and you suspect they've ingested a part of their costume, call your vet right away, or a 24 hour emergency clinic. Do not try to induce vomiting on your own, as some foreign objects can cause as much harm coming back out.
What to do if your dog bites a trick or treater.
|Again, you should spare your dog the parade, and potential stress, of trick or treaters coming to your door by keeping them in a safe space like a crate or another room of the house. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Did you know that most bites occur in the house, and that children between the ages of 5 and 9 are the most frequent victims?
In the event your dog bites a child, here's what you should do:
-Put your dog in another room, away from whoever they've bit.
-Asses the damage. Some dogs nip as a warning and may only “pinch” the skin with their teeth.
the affected area with warm, soapy water. Depending on the severity of
the bite, the victim may need to seek medical attention.
-Exchange contact information with the victim, their parent or chaperone.
your vet and request your dog's medical records. (If your pet isn't
up-to-date on their shots, you could be in big trouble.)
-Inform your local authorities of the incident and be sure to comply every step of the way.
Of course I hope that none of these scary scenarios apply to you and your pet this Halloween, but, as Benjamin Franklin once said: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take the proper precautions so that you and your pet can have a fun, and safe Halloween.
|Kathleen McCafferty loves Halloween, but she loves her dog, Ira G, even more. That means she keeps the chocolate well out of reach, and tucks Ira away in a quiet room when the trick or treaters start making their rounds. She's fairly certain her dog would never bite anyone, but she also knows he's uneasy around really hyper children (read: sugar-high trick or treaters) so she's not taking any chances. Ira G is fairly tolerant of costumes but still hasn't decided what he wants to be this year.