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Tricks are no treat for pets

Animals need to be kept safe on Halloween

POSTED October 26, 2011 1:28 p.m.

There are all sorts of preparations under way for a successful Halloween.
Decorating, costume production, treat preparation, even safety planning for the trick-or-treaters, are all important.
But according to information from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — ASPCA — much of the time that planning doesn’t extend to our pets, which can prove unfortunate for them, and expensive for us.
Some of the tips to keep pets safe at Halloween include:
• No tricks, no treats — Candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for dogs and cats. “Chocolate in all forms — especially dark or baking chocolate — can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.”
• Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be “relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.”
• Wires and cords from electric decorations should be kept out of reach of pets. “If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.”
•  A carved pumpkin jack-o-lantern is festive, but with a lit candle, it is also dangerous to pets. “Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.”
• Costumes can be a problem for pets. “Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams). For pets who prefer their ‘birthday suits,’ however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.”
“If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.”
It is a good idea to keep pets and trick-or-treaters apart from each other. After all, you pet doesn’t know why these strangers are coming onto their territory.
• All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.
•  When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.
• Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. “If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.”

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