Halloween Hazards Part 1

Posted by Pia

Halloween may be a fun time of year for humans but it can be both scary and hazardous to our furry family members. This week and next I will be sharing some safety precautions I shared last year at this time. I hope they help you and your furry goblins to safely ward off ghouls and ghosts!

Take a moment and imagine how Halloween must feel from the perspective of our furry friends: For starters, their humans often outfit them in silly costumes and parade them around the neighborhood... (Check out some Martha contest submissions from Halloween's past...)

1 of 10

1 "Ok...but i'm only saying it 1 more time....'"That's one small step for dogs; one giant leap for dogkind."

2 "What's to say this is a costume and not what I normally wear?"

3 "Ha ha, I'm a lobster... now get this off!"

4 "Must I do 'Hound Dog'? I'm really more partial to 'Jailhouse Rock'..."

5 "Polly want a trick or a treat?"

6 "Can't talk now, got a 5 alarm in progress on Main..."

7 "What's your bet on how long I'll stand this?"

8 "Just got my diving certification...that was no small task!"

9 "Amelia who?"

10 "We're off to see the fire hydrant..."

As if that's not enough, our animal companions suddenly find themselves facing a barrage of scary new sounds, smells and temptations. We humans have the benefit of knowing the ghouls are make-believe -- but imagine if we thought they were real? Now that's scary!

The threats to the safety of our companion animal's are far too serious and numerous to ignore some simple precautions. Even best trained, most obedient animals must be protected from the multiple temptations present this time of year.

Our furry family members have to manage stimulus overload, and their instincts to protect are in full force. As their "parents," we must keep them safe and secure with a few simple steps before and during the holiday.

Part I involves the Three I's you must do now, prior to Halloween night, to secure your furry goblins.

I is for Identification: I don't care how obedient your companion animal is, it is essential that she wear a readable ID tag. A microchip is great, but I cannot overstate the importance of a simple tag or collar with a working phone number on it. Most people whose animals get lost did not expect it to happen. An animal getting lost is often prompted by a totally unforeseen circumstance like a sudden noise or a gate accidently left open.

Providing a good Samaritan or local shelter with a simple way to reunite you with your loved one is the safest way to get him back. Without a tag, the journey home is far more complicated -- and therefore less likely. My dogs have an additional note on their tags that reads, "If I am alone, I am lost." This encourages anyone who might assume they are used to being out and will find their way home to call me instead.

For cats in particular it is important that a tag be on a 'quick-release' type collar for safety. Most pet supply stores will know what you are asking for if you request this. Even though my cats are indoors only, I still keep a tag on each of them that has my cell phone number and the words, "If I am out, I am lost."

If your animal's tag has an outdated phone number, be sure to replace it with your current information -- and it's always good to list a second number to call if possible. Tags can be ordered online from a number of sources and most pet supply store chains have machines that make tags on site as you wait.

I is for Information: Have current information on hand for the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital and how to get there. Having a number for a pet-specific 24 hour poison-control line is also essential. Be sure to share these with neighbors and friends.

Highly toxic temptations and opportunities to escape are everywhere on Halloween. Time is of the essensce if an animal ingests a toxic substance or is injured in some way. The time it takes to find out where you should go in an emergency could make all the difference for your own furry friend or for another you might discover in need of help.

I is for Indoors: Be sure both indoor and outdoor cats are secured indoors at least 2 to 3 days prior to, as well as during, Halloween night. Sadly, many cats (especially black ones) are reported missing at this time of year and reports of ill-intentioned individuals seeking cats for seasonal rituals and the like are numerous. The safest course of action is to keep cats indoors and to report any suspicious activity to both local authorities and to animal cruelty organizations

Be sure to check out Part 2 of Halloween Hazards next Thursday, when I will offer tips for protecting your companion animals on Halloween itself.

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Comments (7)

  • Hello Ms. Pia,
    This is a very good subject that you are giving information about. I have a cousin, Abram, who gets dressed up for Halloween and he waits for the kids to come to his house and he has a huge plastic pumpkin with candy in it for the children. He loves when the kids visit him and pet his chow fur and they get goodies in return. But his owner, Norma, is very careful that he does not put his big fat head into the pumpkin to take any of the goodies cause they are bad for him.
    Love ya,
    PS - If Zoe gets dressed up for Halloween I think it would be appropriate for her to be Barbie and they could make a purse for her out of toilet paper. She would be in heaven but of course there would be nothing left of the costume by the end of the night. hehehehehe

  • good morning dr pia,
    I look sort of like the chihuahua in picture #7. Our house has gotten kind of spooky with decorations, that's o.k.
    Thanks for the great info. I'll pass it on to my human brother, he has a new dog and my need to know more about these things.
    Have a good day all,

  • Absolutely darling photos! :) and yes there are hazards, especially the Black cats disappearance and abuse(what's wrong with people??)

    Personally I can't stand Halloween...I think I might have mentioned it in last years post during this time. For me it's not a positive time and can't see why it's celebrated anyway...

    Thank You for sharing this information Dr. Pia.

    Everyone and their Fur-friends have a great weekend!

  • Hello Dr. Pia,
    Your info is always so helpful. Mom and Dad keep a good watch on me. I hope everyone is safe this Halloween. Maddox, you crack me up about Zoe and her costume. It is the perfect fit. But better yet, we need to make up how all of us would be dressed if we were going out on the town together on Halloween. I see Rebel wearing a big Mexican sombrero and Cora Bell would perhaps be a ballerina. I already have a Sherlock Holmes coat. I think Maddox and Kirby would be in fine Chinese royalty outfits. I think the kitties should be pirates, why I don't know--maybe that puss and boots things. Everyone put you input in, this should be fun.
    Love & licks,

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    And hello to you too Dr. Pia. GK Mommy Martha told on you yesterday on her show. You have been running loose around the neighborhood looking for a “lady” friend. Martha said that you had to be brought home by the police the other night. WHEN THEY BROUGHT YOU HOME, DID THEY RUN THE LIGHTS AND SIREN; HUH, HUH, HUH? WOW, that would be exciting! I’ve been close to a patrol car and saw those bright lights but they didn’t have the siren on. When I hear the sirens, I usually begin to how. Mommy says that I only do it if some is hurt really bad and they are taking them to the hospital. Other times I don’t pay any attention to the noise. Don’t ask me how I know; I don’t know myself.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Hi Dr. Pia, Thanks so much for these darling photos and this very serious blog post about how to care for our wonderful furry family members, as well as those in and around our neighborhoods. My sweet little DDR never likes anything put on his body except a leash so I don't put a costume on him. Our Kitty Poo is an indoor cat so she will be safe. I never let DDR go outside alone. We have not had any Halloweeners in our area for several years. Many schools, Shopping Malls, and Parks are having parties for kids and I like that idea. Sure hope everyone has a great day and Cora Belle, sure hope you feeling better today! Jan & DDR

  • wow! that ferret looks really neat..we never have any trick or treaters, even though we leave all the lights on and have lots of candy..too far off the beaten path, I guess.Back to my old-self today...Basil, that ballerina idea sounds good, since I am a double masked, double coated Australian cattle dog, black grey and brown, I could wear a stylish purple tutu..something for me to think about..or I could disguise myself as a honey badger, they are cool! Dr. Pia, thanks for the good sound advice..G.K. what is up with you? yikes! take care my fellow doggers, over and out, cora-belle

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