Halloween fun: How to be creepy and safe (Dr. Weiner)

Dr. Zach Weiner

It is that time of year again. There is a fresh crispness in the air, children are back in school, the leaves are changing colors, and football has taken over many of our weekends. Yes readers, fall is upon us and I for one could not be more excited. Very shortly one of the year’s most fun holidays will be here. Of course, I am speaking about Halloween.

As you can see from the following pictures, my family has a great deal of fun on Halloween. Frisby loves wearing clothes and our little Pomeranian “Kitty” is always game for a little dress up. They love to participate in the pet parades and parties. We all love to have a good time!

Kitty as a pretty princess

Napolean Dynamite and Tina

Frisby aka Tina the Llama

Frisby the crazy sports fan and Kitty the green Monstah.

Yes, we love having a good time dressing up for holiday parties, showing off to trick or treating kids, or just taking fun photos. Halloween can be great, but it is important to be careful as well.

Rule #1: Watch those treat baskets.
One of the best things about Halloween for kids is the candy. It is important to remember, though, that some of these tasty treats can be really dangerous for pets. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats. Their livers are very efficient at changing the chemicals of these delicious treats into toxins. Raisins and grapes are even more dangerous and can potentially cause kidney failure in some pets. For those of you who are more health conscious, you need to be careful as well. Even very small doses of the artificial sweetener xylitol (found in sugarless gum) can be life threatening. So be sure your furry family members cannot get into your candy bowl or the kids’ stash. Even if they do not get into something toxic, the strange new foods could also give them pretty bad upset stomachs. No one wants to clean up vomit or diarrhea on a holiday right? So make sure you and your kids keep the treats for human consumption only.

Rule #2: Do not let the cat out of the bag (or house).
My dogs are very social and love to meet people. My cats are also very social as well. That being said, we do not let them greet people at the door because we do not want any escapees during trick or treat time. It is important to be careful that your pets cannot sneak out into the night. Trust me, nothing kills the holiday fun like a lost cat or a run away dog. Also, be aware that some dogs are protective of their house or family. If your dog does not like strangers, it would be best to keep him or her in a safe room or even at a boarding facility for the night. I have two cats that would love nothing more than to dash out the door for an epic adventure. For their safety and my sanity, we keep them safe in the bedroom until the last costumed child has come and gone. Just remember a little bit of preparation can potentially save a lot of heartache. Also, it is important to make sure your pets have up to date tags and microchips just in case.

Rule #3: Costume and decoration safety
At my house, we love dressing up our dogs because they tolerate it. We would never think about trying this with our cats. Don’t dress up your pets if it will stress them, and remember “less is more.” Most animals don’t like anything on their heads or covering their eyes. If your pet gets really upset, they are better off without the clothing. Also, be careful that the costumes do not have any small parts that could be chewed or swallowed. Lastly, do not leave your pet unsupervised in costume. As far as decorations go, remember cats are very curious and some may be curious about jack o’ lanterns or other decorations. Be careful about any real candles, sharp decorations, or tinsel/ribbons.

Well, that is about it for now folks. Have fun, be safe and enjoy the next few months. If you want more information about food toxins or pet safety around the holiday, be sure to check out the ASPCA website listed below:

Happy Howliday all!

Dr. Zach W

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