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Thomas Dock, CVJ, Vet. Technician  
Male, 49
Indianapolis, IN

Interests: animals, Reading (sci-fi and fantasy)
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Autumn, Halloween and Fall Pet Dangers

Oct 05, 2009 - 8 comments

This past week in Indiana has been one of crisp temperatures and definite fall like weather.  The full moon last night reminded me that we need to spend some time keeping your pet safe during the upcoming Halloween holiday.

Lots of people (me included!) love the spirit and fun of Halloween.  We decorate our homes with spooky ornament and creepy pictures.   And, most of the fun is finding that perfect Halloween costume!  We even try to get our pets involved in the fun and that’s what I want to discuss today.

You have all seen pictures of the dachshunds dressed up in hot dog bun costumes, or the pug with eight spider legs or even the Great Dane dressed up like a bumblebee.  These dogs seem to get excited about the holiday just like their owners.  Unfortunately, not all of our pets like being dressed up.   IF you are lucky and your pet tolerates a costume, be sure that it doesn’t use rubber bands or other constrictive devices that might cut off breathing or circulation.   Also, don’t use costumes with toxic dyes or paints and make sure that its inedible as well.

If your pet struggles or seems uncomfortable in any way, just let him dress up in his “birthday suit” for the day!

When you are trying on your costume, remember that this is probably something new that your pet has never seen before.   Our pets can be confused by big hats, masks, and other costume accessories.   Territorial instincts are even triggered in some pets and that can cause a pet to act fearful or even aggressive.

Even when our pets are normally super social with people, costumes can baffle them.  And, since you are responsible for your pet’s behavior, you want to be doubly sure that normally kid friendly Spot doesn’t go out and bite the little ghouls and ghosts flitting around the neighborhood.

With constant knocking or doorbells, this holiday is a bit too much excitement for some pets.  Halloween is a big day for pets to escape and run off.  Even fenced in yards are not ideal for this scary night.   Consider letting your pet stay inside in a special quiet place, with his own treats.   He will be safe and secure from the goblins there!

Even those decorations we spend so much time on can be a problem for pets.   The fake spider webs and string like material are very tempting for our feline friends.  When cats ingest things like these, there is a good chance that it will cause an obstruction and a trip to the Animal ER!

Likewise, candles in pumpkins can be easily knocked over, potentially burning a pet or even starting a fire.  Be sure to extinguish all candles if you leave for your Halloween party.

Finally, as everyone is already aware, many of the “treats” we pick out for this holiday are dangerous to our pets.   Chocolate is a definite problem, although the milk chocolate in most candy bars is less of a problem than semi-sweet or baker’s chocolate.  In any case, if you pet ingests some of the candy, call your veterinarian with the amount your pet ate along with the weight of your pet.   Some veterinarians might have you make your dog vomit, others will have you go to the ER.  In some cases, just watching  your pet is ok, but you definitely want to check with your veterinarian before making that assumption.

Candies with sticks or foil wrappers also have the potential to cause a digestive tract obstruction.  And, don’t forget to keep candies sweetened with Xylitol out of the reach of dogs.   This sweetener can cause extremely low blood sugar levels and possibly cause liver damage in our dogs.

All in all, this is a great holiday to have fun and let your “inner child” come out.   Just remember that you as the adult still needs to be mindful of the needs of your “four legged children”.

Happy Halloween everyone!


Comments
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by ginger899, Oct 05, 2009
This is a brilliant post!
Funny, but very sensible too.
And as for chocolate, I can vouch for the fact that it can make dogs very ill indeed. My Misty got hold of some chocolate once -milk chocolate Cadbury Buttons, quite a few of them too. She was very ill with bloody diarrhea. Not good. She had to go to the vet. She was OK after a day of fasting and water. But never give dogs sweeties or human treats of any kind. Best idea.

It's funny about the costume-thing. My dog notices if I dress differently. I think dogs are built to be very observant and notice changes like that.

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by margypops, Oct 05, 2009
Could you tell me I know dogs cant eat chocolate can cats eat it ?I noticed in your post you say pets, so that means cats aswell,?thanks

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by Thomas Dock, CVJ, Vet. TechnicianBlank, Oct 05, 2009
margypops...Interestingly, most cats won't eat chocolate.   The theobromine in chocolate can cause problems for them as well, but cats lack the "sweet" tooth that our dogs tend to have.

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by dominosarah, Oct 06, 2009
This is a great post.  I was thinking about putting my decorations up but will not be putting a few of them out as i dont want my cat to get into them.  Better safe than sorry.  This year we have also decided to leave the lights off as the beagle is elderly and not in very good shape.  I am worried that she will hurt herself running to the door everytime the doorbell rings as she acts like it is the first time she has ever heard it!!!               sara

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by Tammy2009, Oct 06, 2009
Hehe, you have not meet my kitten then Thomas.  His favourite "treat" (don't worry, she's not allowed it) are golden oreos.  Even if you are across the house, we comes running with his nose sniffing and sits in your face until you are done then he MUST lick your fingers and face before you are allowed to move.  

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by Thomas Dock, CVJ, Vet. TechnicianBlank, Oct 06, 2009
LOL Tammy...that is a good one.   It just goes to further prove that none of our pets seem to read the same books that the animal experts do!

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by Tammy2009, Oct 07, 2009
Then again, I'm not sure he understands he is a cat .....

He knows close to 25 commands, MUST go for a daily walk (otherwise he goes insane, not including being able to be out in the frontyard on a leash as much as he wants), eats everything on the floor whether crumbs, fluff or dirt (except veggies, fruits and bread), must be near someone and hates being left alone and loves his kennel to play and sleep in.  And for the first two years he loved water, until he started to get weekly baths to help my allergies.  

Sooooo he is funky all the way around.  Although I guess that is what I get for getting a Maine Coon cross.  :D  

(He is the one in my arms in my picture)

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by Piparskeggr, Oct 09, 2009
My cats have all seemed to have a bit of a sweet tooth, but it has been confined to sweet corn (especially the water in which it is packed) and peanut butter.

One other thing for folks to be aware of...hops.

My wife and I are home brewers, so this is something that has come up in that community.

Hops, which have been boiled with malt, thereby imparting some sweetness and malt flavor, are attractive to both felines and canines.  They are one of those plants that contain elements, which are toxic to them.

Our cats have always loved supervising the brewing sessions.

Good and timely topic.

BTW, I realized a long time ago that cats always think we look strange, but dogs are usually more forgiving ,-)

take care - Pip

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