Halloween is a time for spooky-fun, but it can be a stressful time for pets.
Some animals don't mind the noise and strange fun of the holiday, but others will not tolerate the festivities going on outside and people at the door constantly. The following are tips to help avoid causing a pet any more stress then needed during this Halloween season.
• Pet Costumes
While some pets are real hams and enjoy playing dress-up, for others it might not be a good idea.
Dressing a pet, whether its their first time or not, in a full outfit or just in a scarf or hat can cause even the nicest animal to become frustrated and snippy. Masks are not a good idea for any animal since they depend on their vision to know their surroundings. Remember, just because it looks cute doesn't mean that the pet will enjoy wearing it.
To avoid any problems, try the clothing on the pet in advance and see how they react.
"Children should never be allowed to put costumes on pets. Parental supervision is always suggested," Clay County Humane Society Shelter Director Matt Moss said. "Sometimes pets don't always like dress up and some costumes have strings and other things that could become tangled on a pet and scare it or cause it harm."
Moss said if you do dress-up your pet, make sure the costume isn't unsafe.
A pet costume should not constrict the animal's movement, hearing, or impede its ability to breathe. Also check for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could choke on.
Always make sure a dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason a pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip increase the chances it will be returned to the owner.
Halloween parties are fun ways to celebrate the season, but unless a pet is ultra-friendly and doesn't mind loud noises, music and lots of people they shouldn't be invited.
If alcohol is served at the party, remember animals don't like being intoxicated. Some people may think it's funny to get an animal drunk, but it can kill them.
Lighted candles or Jack-O-Lanterns can be terrific Halloween decorations, but they can be fire hazards if a pet becomes curious and knocks them over with a swinging tail or a prying paw. Not only could a pet start a fire, but also they could severely burn themselves in the process.
Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, a pet could damage their mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.
Decorating with pumpkins and decorative corn, which are considered to be relatively nontoxic, is fun, but if eaten by a pet could cause gastrointestinal upset or intestinal blockage could occur if large pieces are ingested.
No matter how much they beg, Halloween candy is not intended for pets. Chocolate can be deadly in any amount to animals, while wrappers, such as tin foil, can get stuck in a pet's digestive tract and make them sick or cause death.
According to Moss, chocolate isn't the only candy to be aware of.
"Bubble gum can become caught in the intestines of animals and kill them since they cannot digest it," he said, adding that it is also a problem if it gets stuck in a pet's fur. "Peanut butter works best to get that out rather then scissors. If you use peanut butter you wont run the risk of cutting their skin while trying to get it out."
If a pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, contact a veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
When greeting trick-or-treaters at the front door, take precautions to keep a pet from darting out the open door while handing out candy. A costumed child could frighten the pet, which could lead to a biting incident or the frightened pet could run away
"Especially during the holidays when there are lights, loud noises, unfamiliar people, and many other distractions, pets can become confused or scared with all the excitement and leave the territory they are familiar with," Moss said, adding that it's a good time for pet owners to check those pet identification tags just in case. "Micro-chipping is a excellent idea for pet owners during anytime of the year."