As summer closes its backdoor on its heatwaves, BBQs, and hot cars, the beginning of autumn signifies the first of a number of upcoming human festivals, with the potential to harm our pets, is imminent. Believe it or not Halloween celebrations were once only about humans dressing-up (and usually just kids), but nowadays of course, the whole family must get involved in festivities – especially the four-legged members).
So are you planning to dress your dog or cat up in the cutest novelty costume you can find? Or perhaps make yourself? Personally I’m not a massive fan of dressing up pets for fun as I’m not convinced all pets enjoy it; preferring that pets look just like pets i.e. in their birthday suit or perhaps donning a fancy collar or fun, themed bandana; unlikely to cause upset to any collar-wearing pet.
Sorry to be a killjoy but forcing innocent pets to become pumpkins or pirates for a few hours, for ‘our’ amusement and social media likes, can often lead to unnecessary stress, resulting in abnormal, unwanted, even damaging behaviours. Ill-fitting outfits can also get snagged on external objects or even twisted on your pet itself, leading to pain and injury.
However if you do go ahead and decide to adorn your pet in any one of the thousands of crazy costumes now available, then please make sure they’ve tried them on before the big night and they don’t appear to mind; making sure breathing, movement, hearing, and ability to bark or meow isn’t in any way impaired. Try not to put a mask on your dog or cat, or indeed anything covering their eyes or ears.
Please carefully check there are no small, dangling, toxic, or easily chewed-off pieces that can be swallowed, inhaled, or choked on. Make sure your pet is properly identified underneath that outfit too, for any reason your pet panics, escapes, and becomes lost, its collar and tag, and microchip are lifesavers.
With the traditional abundance of sweets around at Halloween remember chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is extremely poisonous to dogs. Chewing gum containing artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause serious problems. Although generally safe, don’t let your pet nibble on real pumpkins, as they can cause stomach upset. If you suspect your pet’s ingested something harmful please call your vet immediately.
Take care adding candles to carved pumpkins too, and don’t leave them unattended as pets can easily knock them over causing a fire, with curious puppies and kittens running the risk of getting burned or singed too. Fake cobwebs may choke or entangle pets, and make sure any Halloween lights are kept well out of your pet’s reach to prevent electric shock if chewed, especially young animals and house rabbits.
Human masks and costumes are designed to change your looks and smells, so even familiar people can become noisy and frightening to their own pets, with a nervous dog bite or cat scratch quickly ending any festive fun. Make sure pets have access to a room where they can feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed – rather than able to run away scared every time your doorbell rings and front door opens!