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Pet Vet: Practice safety with pets for Halloween

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Halloween costumes, candy, and decorations are fun. But it's best to be safe when enjoying the holidays.

Costumes

I'm as guilty as the next person, forwarding cute photos of costumed pets. But there are a few rules to follow. Make sure your pet isn't terrified or constricted by their costume if you insist on dressing them up. Outfits that make noises can be particularly distressing as the pet jingles, rattles, or crackles with every step.

Don't use a costume that covers their face and obstructs vision — this could be both scary and hazardous, especially when maneuvering stairs. Make sure their outfit allows full movement, and isn't too warm to avoid overheating.

Don't leave them in the costume unattended. They may destroy and eat the costume out of frustration, which can cause stomach and intestinal issues.

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Glow-sticks and glow-jewelry have become a Halloween tradition. Although they increase visibility to keep our kids safe, they can cause pet problems. Curious cats and dogs may nibble at the glowing jewelry. Ingestion can cause drooling, foaming at the mouth, agitation, and occasionally aggressive behavior. While distressing to watch, fortunately it's just a temporary reaction to the bad taste and not a life-threatening situation.

If your pet bites into a glow-stick, try to get them to drink or eat something to flush the contents from the mouth. If they're too upset to eat, gently rinse their mouth with water, but don't let them choke. Your pet may also need a bath to remove any extra product from their fur, or they'll groom that off too, continuing the mouth irritation.

Candy

If you're like me, buying Halloween candy too early is a bad idea. It just gets eaten up and I have to buy more. Such heavy consumption isn't good for anyone, but can be particularly dangerous for dogs. Most people realize that chocolate is toxic to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to pets. Signs of chocolate toxicity can include vomiting, diarrhea, drinking tons of water, lethargy, agitation, seizures, and death.

Other candy causes problems, too. If a dog eats too much sugar or fat, it can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly life-threatening pancreatitis.

Even candy wrappers can prove to be a problem. If a pet eats enough of them, they can get stuck in the stomach or intestines, causing a blockage which requires surgery to fix. Keep the candy bowl out of reach of your pets.

Decorations

Use special care if you place lit candles inside your carved pumpkins. Many a cat tail has been singed by a curious kitty getting too close. Place your lit jack-o-lantern far out of reach of any curious noses or happy tail wags to avoid your pets getting burned or knocking over the display and potentially causing a house fire.

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Trick or treat

The arrival of costumed kids yelling "trick or treat" at your door can be scary for your pet. It's best to keep them in a separate room, or at least behind a baby gate to avoid them running out into the night in fear.

Black cats

Although I hate to think of it, there are people who perform vicious pranks on black cats around Halloween season. Please keep them indoors during this time.

Ann M. Anderson, DVM, is a veterinarian at Quarry Hill Park Animal Hospital in Rochester.

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