Why Halloween could be frightful for your pet


DANGER IN DISGUISE Halloween costumes are often uncomfortable and even dangerous for pets.

The vet's view
Conal Finnerty

As we watch the leaves turn from their beautiful shades of green to their familiar browns and reds, thoughts turn to autumn and the harvest season culminating in the festivities around the season that is Halloween.
Whilst this is traditionally a lovely time of year for most, it brings with it potential dangers for our household pets, everything from the most obvious, like candles and chocolate treats, to the not-so-obvious, like as fake blood and fake cobwebs, which can be both a toxic and a choking danger. Plastic decorations and costume parts are also choking hazards if a pet should decide to play with and chew on them.
While they look cute to some, pet costumes can be both an annoyance and a danger for your pet. Costumes that have pieces that can potentially be chewed off and ingested are dangerous. Costume parts on the head and around the neck can be very irritating – and a strangulation hazard for pets who will not tolerate them. Best to keep pet costumes to a minimum, as they can be more of an annoyance than a source of fun for your pet.
It goes without saying that Halloween treats can and often are potentially very dangerous for pets both from a toxic and a choking point of view. Hard round candy, chocolates, gums and so on can be easily accessible to pets around Halloween, and there is nothing worse than having to deal with a choking or poisoned pet at this or indeed any time of year. Instructing children in so far as is possible about the dangers that treats pose to pets is a good thing to do at this time of year.
The hype and noises around Halloween can cause stress and anxiety to pets, and this should also be considered. If your cat or dog is likely to get stressed with people calling and the door being opened regularly – and having to listen to fire crackers and the loud shrieks of children unknown to them – best to perhaps confine them to a secure area of the house during this festive season. They are also less likely to bolt from your door and get disorientated and lost in the night. Be sure that your pet is microchipped (both dogs AND cats) so that if they do get out and lost, they can be reunited with you when or if they are picked up.
Please be mindful of those pets that live outdoors, such as working dogs, so that they do not become traumatised at the unusual loud noises at this time of year. Be sure they are safe and secure in their out housing.
While we look forward to the familiar and joyful activities of the Halloween season, do spare a thought for our pets, some of whom won’t want to voluntarily participate in the fun and frolics of this Halloween season.

Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.