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Veterinarian offers tips to keep Halloween safe, less stressful for pets

Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 

MANHATTAN — Halloween is a time to dress up in costumes and indulge in sweet treats, but a Kansas State University veterinarian says some of these holiday traditions can be dangerous to our four-legged friends.

"Keeping these tips in mind can help make the holiday safe and less stressful for our furry family members," said Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor in clinical sciences at the university's Veterinary Health Center.

Strange visitors in scary costumes and loud noises may cause your frightened dog or anxious cat to run away, so Nelson said its important to make sure your pet has some form of identification, such as a microchip or tags. She also suggests using a reflective collar to help spot your escaped pet at night.

Nelson recommends keeping your pet indoors before, during and a few days after Halloween for their safety.

"Cats, especially black ones, are often sought after with cruel intentions during Halloween," Nelson said.

During trick-or-treating hours, Nelson suggests keeping your pet in a back room with the radio or TV turned on to help drown out noise caused by ringing doorbells and excited children. She warns that even social animals can be tempted to dash outside while the door is open.

While dressing your pet in a costume can be humorous and fun, it also can be dangerous, Nelson said. If you choose to dress up your pet, avoid costumes that have any loose or small parts that can be pulled off and ingested. Try on any costumes ahead of time to make sure your pet can see, breathe, hear and move.

"If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior with a costume, consider having it wear a Halloween themed bandana, or better yet, nothing at all," Nelson said.

For pets with a sweet tooth for Halloween candy or an eye for fun decorations, Nelson has some suggestions to keep them out of trouble:

• Don't keep the candy bowl in an easily accessible place. Chocolates, sugar-free candies, raisins and some nuts can be toxic to pets. And it's not just the candy that can be dangerous. Candy wrappers and lollipop sticks can become choking hazards or gastrointestinal foreign bodies if ingested.

• Keep pets away from electrical cords and decorations. Chewing on electrical cords can lead to life-threatening electrocution and burns. Decorations, especially corncobs, can be ingested and cause obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract.

• Keep lit pumpkins and candles out of reach, as they can burn your pet. A frightened or curious pet also can tip over a candle, which could lead to a house fire.

For more information, contact the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center at 785-532-5690.

Photo credit: Inaugural North Charleston Harvest Festival & Block Party via photopin (license)


Susan Nelson


Veterinary Health Center

At a glance

For many of us, Halloween is a time for sweet treats and fun costumes. According to a Kansas State University veterinarian, many of these traditions can be dangerous to our four-legged friends.