Mace Dekker: Halloween safety tips |

Mace Dekker: Halloween safety tips

Mace Dekker, D.V.M.

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? Let's face it, it can be a downright nightmare. Forgo the stress and dangers this year by following these tips:

1. Trick-or-treat

The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not Scruffy or Fluffy. All forms of chocolate — especially baking or dark chocolate — can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to pets. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures.

2. Don't leave pets out in the yard on Halloween.

Surprisingly, vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution.

3. Keep pets confined and away from the door.

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Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends. Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxious and growl at innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your dog or cat in a secure room away from the front door will also prevent them from darting outside into the night … a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

4. Don't keep lit pumpkins around pets.

Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or knocking it over and causing a fire. Especially puppies and kittens, curious by nature, are prone to getting just that little bit too close. Also be careful around electric wires that might be chewed on.

5. Don't dress your pet in a costume unless you know they'll love it.

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict movement, hearing, or the ability to breathe or bark and meow. Try on pet costumes before the big night to make sure they will cope with it appropriately.

If they seem distressed, allergic, or show abnormal behavior, consider letting them go in their "birthday suit." Festive bandanas usually work for party poopers, too.

6. IDs, please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that they will be returned. Just make sure the information is up-to-date, even if your pet does have one of those fancy-schmancy embedded microchips.

It's a fun spooky holiday for us, but let's make sure it stays fun and not plain spooky for our furry kids!

Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital's Mace Dekker, D.V.M. will consider your questions each month in Vet Tips. Have a question? Submit it to

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